It feels great to be the recipient of someone's act of kindness. You drop something and a stranger quickly bends and picks it up for you. Your arms are full and someone opens the door for you. You're tired after a long day at work and a stranger gets up and offers you his seat on the bus. You are short by $2 at the market and the stranger behind you kindly pays it for you. It makes you feel great about the place where you live and the neighbours who share the place with you.
If simple acts of kindness make you feel good then the incredible acts of God's grace must cause you to celebrate all day long.
Perhaps they would if we realized how deep and wide that grace is. It goes beyond the cross of Jesus and into our daily living. It covers our slow spiritual maturity. It makes allowance for the fact that we all start off as spiritual babies, knocking things over, making a mess, breaking things and filling up our diapers. We don't always realize just how much grace we are receiving every day. A baby does not realize how many times his parents forgive him in a day but when he is older he will appreciate it. We too should be appreciating God's grace more as we mature, not less.
Paul wrote a blessing to the Ephesians:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:2)
It is a blessing to remind the Ephesians what they already possess. It is not a prayer that they would receive but a reminder of what they have. Jesus said he gives us his peace, not as the world gives. In other words he is not taking it back. It is ours and if we do not feel that peace then we should be looking at what we allow to disturb it. We do not have to go looking for peace in some far off desolate place because we already have it in our relationship with Jesus.
It is only logical.
If Jesus is our everything and we are covered by his grace what could disturb our peace? If we feel no guilt and shame because of God's grace, and we have nothing to hide, peace has the freedom to reign. If we are bound to nothing in this world; if nothing holds any value to us; if we are storing away all our treasures in heaven, then peace is what dominates in us. Where there is grace there is peace and we have grace in truck loads.
When we don't trust Jesus; when we are wrestling with our future; when we start putting value in temporary things, then worry, fear, and anxiety will be part of us and they will be the great peace disturbers. Nothing in this world is permanent and fear of losing what we have in this place fills the lives of those who put value in these temporary things.
When we think we have to live a good life to earn our way instead of simply giving glory to God in love, then grace will not exist. As long as we think we have to earn anything with Jesus grace cannot exist. What we do and how we live is not to earn points but is a loving act of obedience. We have to be careful because with an absence of grace there is an absence of peace.
Perhaps that is why Paul chose to start off many of his letters with this same pronouncement of God's great blessings to us. Today I offer you this same utterance, as a reminder of these blessings that should be ever present in our day: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.