Grace and Peace
The words stared back at me from the screen: Rejoicing in the journey,
The curser blinked at me after the comma. It had been my sign off since early college. How long had it been now? Thirteen years? Fourteen?
"It's time for a change." Spirit whispered and I knew exactly what that change should be. I erased the familiar words and typed new ones:
Grace and peace,
The curser blinked again from after the comma, but I didn't watch it for long before typing Bethany on the next line.
Grace and peace. That's what I need.
I knew without a shadow of a doubt that these words would be the next step in my journey to freedom. I knew that they would characterize this next season of my life in ways I couldn’t even understand yet.
I thought about all the echoes of these words throughout the letters of the New Testament.
Romans 1:7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
Titus 1:4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
1 Peter 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
2 Peter 1:2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
And it dawned on me...These are not just casual salutations. These words carry power and life. They tell us something about the path to freedom.
You see friends, once I've named my chains, once I've realized that I'm not free, I think the next step is that I need grace and peace. I need to extend grace and peace towards myself, towards those who have hurt me, towards all those I am in relationship with. And I need to receive the grace and peace that the Spirit of God offers me.
And in ever increasing measures - “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.”
These are rich words friends.
This word for grace is Charis and it carries so much meaning. This is not just the Sunday school definition of grace as "getting what we don't deserve." This is more than that.
In most church settings I've been in mercy and grace have been defined together and usually using only one metaphor. A judge is setting a verdict over a convicted criminal who deserves death. The judge rules that the judgement has already been paid, the criminal doesn't need to pay the penalty of death, and then offers the criminal gifts. Mercy is not getting what is deserved, not having to die. Grace is getting what's not deserved, the gifts given by the judge. This is a fine metaphor, but it's narrow. And this word charis, this word grace, carries so many more metaphors within it.
Charis means "that which affords joy, pleasure, delight". It can also mean "favour, goodwill, loving-kindness".
So friends, may charis be yours in abundance. May the pleasure of God, the delight of God, the great joy of God, the favour of God, the grace of God be yours. And mine. Grace to you. Charis to you. Charis to me.
And the word used for peace in these passages, Eirēnē, it's so rich too. This word carries this idea of harmony, concord, unity, oneness. It can mean "exemption from the rage and havoc of war". Exemption from the wounds of war. Friends, the war is over. Let's give each other exemption from the rage and havoc of war. Let's call off the wars between us. And the internal wars that wage within us. Peace.
Eirēnē also carries this idea of safety, security, and salvation. Friends, let's give each other safety. Let's be safe, secure places for one another. Let's extend peace. Because, of our own salvation, because of the safety and security that God extends to us through Jesus.
When I looked up this word eirēnē I read these words:
...of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is
Oh friends, that's the kind of peace I want. Fearing nothing. Content. Peace that says God is enough for me. God is enough for you. God is enough. There is peace.
I don’t know yet what this will look like, or what it will ask of me, but I want to live into these words. Grace and peace.
I want grace and peace to be multiplied in my life. I want more grace and more peace. The grace and peace that comes from knowing that I am loved by the father, his favor and pleasure and delight rest on me. And the grace and peace that comes from knowing that you are loved by the father, his favor and pleasure and delight rest on you. God offers me grace. He offers you grace. And because of his great grace we can have peace between us.
Because of his grace we can surrender to one another, we can be vulnerable with one another. Because of his grace we are siblings of one family, we are co-heirs. We are not slaves to one another, we are sons and daughters of God together. I have been offered grace and peace from God. And you have been offered grace and peace from God.
Friends, all those who read these words, who walk this journey with me, grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace, Bethany