Grace and Peace - Part 5
Series: My Preaching Bucket List
June 18, 2017
It’s Father’s Day. So in honor of fathers let me see if I can give you what a perfect day would look like for a dad.
He goes to work and puts in his eight hours or so, getting the job done, doing it well and with much praise from his boss (that shows up in his paycheck).
He drives home and hits all the green lights with little traffic. He walks in and collapses into his favorite chair. The dog brings his slippers. The wife dances into the room wearing her apron over a fancy dress (with heels) offering a taste of the supper she’s preparing.
The kids line up to give hugs and then scurry off to do their chores and homework. Dad grabs the remote, kicks, back, and watches his favorite show. He posts a picture of his feet propped up in the recliner with the hashtag #thisismypeace.
Welcome to Fantasy Island…
Recently the Huffington Post asked its readers to tweet what their peace looked like under the hashtag #mypeaceis. As you can imagine, the responses varied…
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Some look for peace in nature. Some look for peace in art and literature. Some look for peace in religion. Some look for peace in the absence of religion or any kind of moral code. Regardless of where you look for peace, it’s hard to find, and even if you do, it’s even harder to maintain.
Things always end up breaking down. Conflict and uncertainty eventually interrupt peace like the screech of the needle ripping off the record of our favorite song.
The world longs for peace and yet it eludes us all. Can there really be peace? Is it possible? I am going to to try and answer that as we change gears in this series Grace and Peace.
If you recall, Grace and Peace is about a phrase found in 15 of the 27 books of the NT (mostly in the letters), all at the same place: the greeting.
“Grace and peace” are included in the greeting of every letter Paul wrote, every letter Peter wrote, and one letter John wrote plus Revelation. For example…
Romans 1:7 (ESV) — 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 Peter 1:2 (ESV) — 2 …May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
2 John 3 (ESV) — 3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.
Revelation 1:4 (ESV) — 4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,
Like us today, there were many ways the ancient Greeks said “hello,” but probably the most common was what would be in our English “Rejoice.” The Greek word for rejoice sounds very similar to the Greek word for grace. So Paul and the other NT writers used a play on words, tweaking a familiar Greek hello but infusing it with a much deeper meaning - grace.
The Jewish way of saying hello is and has been since ancient times shalom, which means peace.
So in the greeting section of these letters, unsurprisingly, we have the writers employing Greek and Hebrew versions of hello, because they were Jewish writers writing for the most part to Gentiles, those raised in the Greek culture.
But on the other hand, these two common words for hello are made uncommon by the fact that they are used so often by so many writers in the NT, and hopefully we are all aware that God himself inspired all those writers to write they wrote down to the dotting of every “i” and crossing of every “t.”
Grace and peace must be more than just a way to say hello. They are. They represent the greatest need we all have. If we have grace and peace, the kind the Bible speaks of, then we have abundantly more than all we need to carry us through this life into the next.
We’ve already spent a few weeks looking at grace (the unmerited favor of God given to us through Jesus) of which we didn’t even put a dent in, now we begin looking at peace.
The Jews kind of have a monopoly on this, because they were around a long time before us Christians came into the picture 2,000 years ago.
Peace, or shalom, is found all through the Old Testament in almost every book.
Shalom carried the idea of…
A sense of welfare
Exodus 18:7 (ESV) — 7 Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. And they asked each other of their welfare and went into the tent.
It literally says they asked each other of their shalom. It would be like us meeting up and asking, “How’s your peace?” and then taking time to share ways in which we have it and maybe don’t.
One Hebrew scholar describes shalom as “[signifying] the welfare of persons in community in the most comprehensive meaning of existence.”
If you think about, asking “how’s your peace?” is way more meaningful than asking “how are you doing?”
Shalom for the Jews also implied…
The absence of hostility
1 Samuel 7:14 (ESV) — 14 The cities that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath, and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites.
It is interesting to note that this absence of hostility required hostility. Israel’s fighting for the land God had given them brought shalom.
This ties into the story of Gideon in Judges 6. He was hiding in a hole when God showed up and declared he (Gideon) would deliver the Isrealite’s from the hand of their enemy, the Midianites.
In the face of climbing out of that hole and leading an army against the enemy we see…
Judges 6:23–24 (ESV) — 23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace…
Shalom is the absence of war and conflict, but it at times requires war and conflict to achieve - only if God initiates it, though. Maybe it’s better to say that shalom isn’t so much the absence of conflict as it is the presence of God.
Shalom also referred to…
Peace in relationships
Shalom described “a relationship characterized by friendship, care, loyalty, and love. These relationships [could] be with God or between people.
A close friend in the Old Testament [was] commonly called “a man of my peace.”
I love that. That’s the kind of friends we need, those who contribute to our welfare, those who help keep down the hostilities of life instead of stirring them up.
Nothing brings true peace except a relationship with God…
Psalm 119:165 (ESV) — 165 Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
Psalm 4:8 (ESV) — 8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) — 3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
That is REAL peace, folks. It is a rock on which we can rest in the midst of the turmoil and uncertainty we face daily.
Ultimately you cannot have peace unless you know God, unless you have a personal relationship with him through the Prince of Peace, his Son, Jesus. Jesus must be the “man of our peace.”
Jesus said (and we will look at this in our series)…
John 14:27 (ESV) — 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Paul wrote (and we will look at this)…
Romans 5:1 (ESV) — 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
And Paul wrote (this too)…
Philippians 4:6–7 (ESV) — 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Conclusion: A walk in the woods or fishing trip can’t bring genuine, ongoing peace. A book can’t. A cup of tea can’t. Even a religious movement can’t.
True, lasting peace only comes through having a relationship with God through Jesus. This peace - unlike the peace the world gives - is for both the here and now and the hereafter.
Hopefully, after learning more about the peace in grace and peace we will be compelled to start a new hashtag of our own: #Jesusismypeace
Let me leave you with some of the sweetest and most beautiful words ever penned. This is my prayer for you dads, for everyone…
Numbers 6:24–26 (ESV) — 24 The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Grace and peace, church.
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