This week my Life Group embarked on a study of 1 Peter, which just happens to be one of my favorite books in the Bible. But it also brought me back to a subject matter that I have already struggled to grasp, at least in a practical sense. In his greeting to his intended audience, Peter blesses them with “May grace and peace be multiplied to you” (1 Peter1:2b). Now these two terms, grace and peace, are use in a descriptive way to define the relationship that God always planned to bring them into through the work of Christ.
Now grace isn’t too hard to get your hands on. It speaks to the character of the new covenant relationship with have with God. A relationship that we receive as a free gift, one also called eternal life. It’s free to us, via faith, but it was costly to God. It cost Jesus a lot to march down the Mount of Olives and enter Jerusalem, going to a certain death…an atoning death for sin.
Peace, however, is a different story. It speaks to the benefit that flows to us because of the grace we have received. Now, the Hebrew word for peace is shalom, which refers to the absence of conflict and the presence of all that is needed for well-being. Sounds great. We all would sign up for that. For the most part, we can recognize it when we see it, but what exactly does it mean to live with the benefit of peace?
I don’t have an exhaustive definition, but I think it goes something like this. Peace is the condition that allows us to act and react to the situations around us in a way that is consistent with the loving nature of Christ. It empowers us such that our words, tone, and body language are always oriented to extending the kingdom and designed to have a redemptive impact on others. It adjusts our attitude so that it is a blessing to others and seeks to be edifying. It sounds like a tall order, but that is what God has given us in Christ, and that Jesus specifically gave to us (John 16:33, 20:21).
My encouragement, don’t settle for anything less.