To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.2 Peter 1:1-2
For the past few days I have been thinking about the relationship between two words: “peace,” and “grace.” Lord knows we are longing for peace in this world, especially in light of school shootings and international conflict and the endemic mean-spiritedness of social and political discourse.
I believe that peace is, at best, a byproduct of something else, rather than a practical end in itself; so our focus must be – like our quest for happiness – somewhere else. And that somewhere else is grace.
But we have woven, we could say, a fabric of ungrace, and we have clothed ourselves in it. No wonder we know little peace.
Peace cannot be had absent grace.
Grace is Amazing:
I always try to have a book or two in process, and at the moment one of them is Philip Yancey’s classic text, What’s So Amazing About Grace? I am reading it aloud to my mother, Grace, so I am digesting just a few pages at a time.
Yesterday the following passage grabbed my attention. Yancey – reflecting on a marital disagreement – noted his wife’s insight into the nature of forgiveness: “I think it’s pretty amazing that I forgive you for some of the dastardly things you’ve done,” she observed.
What struck me about her comment was its sharp insight into the nature of forgiveness. Forgiveness is no sweet platonic ideal to be dispersed into the world like air-freshener sprayed from a can. Forgiveness is achingly difficult, and long after you’ve forgiven the wound lives on in memory. Forgiveness is an unnatural act, and my wife was protesting its blatant unfairness.Philip Yancey
Grace is not a washing over, pretending something bad has not happened, grace at its heart requires an eyes-wide-open honest understanding of the true nature of this world – of its offenses – and then forgives, extends mercy, accepts, moves forward, loves, hopes… regardless.
Too often our understanding of peace is tied up in armistice, conquest, dominance, coercion, outgunning our opponent, defeating the enemy, increasing the penalties for violation – as if we can impose peace.
The kind of peace that Jesus brings, however, emerges from vulnerability, healed relationships, generosity, sacrifice, humility – from grace. And grace can be achingly difficult. Humility is key here.
I would like to suggest, as an exercise – especially if you read this blog as a group, maybe in a class of some kind – that you brainstorm what other words (like grace) lead toward peace. What are some of the prerequisites of peace? Maybe if we practice these, then peace will be – rather than an end in itself – our reward.
Peace to all of you, grace and peace, and I mean that in every way – DEREK