"Peace to you" from jail.
Peace is a sought-after thing--often elusive in this day and age. Now I am not talking about the absence of war, or the absence of violence, but rather the state of inner tranquility. Loosely speaking, peace is peddled in many ways, and people are willing to do just about anything to get it! Aromatherapy, self-help books, yoga, relaxation, anti-depressants, self-hypnosis, essential oils, light therapy ... we cast about trying to acquire a sense of calm.
The only peace that is worthy of the name is Peace with God. God's peace is not man-made, can't be trumped up with enough good will, and cannot be bought. No, our loving God offers his children a peace that is beyond understanding or description! His peace makes it possible to be in a very difficult situation and defying all logic, still know peace. Interestingly, when I think about that peace, a smile lights my face; my being lightens just thinking about God's peace.
Paul writes about this peace in the letter he wrote to the Philippians, among whom he had established a church about 10 years earlier. (We recently described his visit to Philippi, from Acts chapter 16--http://pastorwoman.com/ReadArchive.aspx?id=2914)
The Philippians heard about Paul's imprisonment and sent someone to Rome to tend to his needs. Of all of the churches Paul had established, he enjoyed the sweetest relationship with this Philippian church; oh, how he loved them! And they were devoted to Paul because they understood that he had brought them life-not through oppressive Rome or through the Jewish Law, but through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
Opening our Bibles to the latter part of the New Testament, turning the pages carefully, so as not to miss the four short chapters, we discover it with the other letters Paul wrote from prison. Wait-prison? Yes, Paul wrote this letter to the church at Philippi while he was imprisoned in Rome. He writes, "Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons; Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Philippians 1.1-2
Notice that Paul begins his letter by saying who was writing-just the opposite of our letter-writing style-we sign our names at the end. He claims Timothy has the same thoughts as he does, since Timothy had been with him on his original visit to Philippi. Paul also refers to the Christian Philippians as 'saints'-those who were leading lives, changed because of their relationship with Jesus Christ. Referencing overseers and deacons, the church had clearly grown since Paul had originally founded it.
"Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ," he extends. We know that both grace and peace flow from the heart of our Heavenly Father, made possible through Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross. But there is more to this chosen expression of 'Grace and Peace.' Paul combines two greetings of his day. 'Charis' is the greeting the Greeks used to begin all of their letters, while 'Shalom' is the greeting the Jews used to greet one another. Used together, we see how each is enriched by the other because of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
'Want peace in your life? 'Want the smile of inner contentment on your face? Follow Jesus, and follow him closely. And this study of the book of Philippians is sure to aid you in a deeper understanding of the peace and joy in growing closer and closer to your Lord. Grace and Peace can only come through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Grace and Peace,