LentBlog 2015, Day 27: Peace, again…

Colossians 1:1-2, NRSV:

 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters[a] in Christ in Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.


I ran out of Ephesians, so I’m starting Colossians tonight to continue through Lent. I figure I started in an epistle, why not stay with one?

As with my post about the first few verses of Ephesians, “grace and peace” jump out at me again with this passage. Only this time, specifically “peace” is working on me. The Teknia online Greek dictionary defines εἰρήνη as “peace, harmony, tranquility; safety, welfare, health; often with an emphasis on lack of strife or reconciliation in a relation, as when one has peace with God. Often used as a verbal and written greeting.”

Lack of strife.

Reconciliation in a relation.

We were once at war, but now we are at peace. With God… with each other… In Christ.

I think it’s way too easy to say we are at peace with God when we are at the same time in unresolved, open conflict with brothers and sisters in the church. I think it’s too easy to say, “sure, I have peace with God” when the life together of “God’s people” is anything but. Not saying that the church is never going to have conflicts or disagreements… it’s not going to be 100% sitting around the campfire singing Kum-Ba-Ya. But it seems like we could be reconciled with one another on a profoundly deep level and still have disagreements. It’s just that the peace among us runs deeper. Or at least it can, if Paul’s blessing applies to us.

Things to think about…

Blessings,

Mark

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LentBlog 2015, Day 10: Our Need to Win is Killing Us.

11 So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth,[b] called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15 He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16 and might reconcile both groups to God in one body[c] through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.[d] 17 So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.[e] 21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually[f] into a dwelling place for God.

NRSV


I think sometimes our need to win gets us in trouble. In fact, were it not 11:00pm after a long week, and I were to spend some more time really considering that statement, I don’t doubt that I would say something like, “Our need to win has disastrous consequences for us on all kinds of levels.”

It’s the leader who can’t see the obvious failure they’re promoting… because they have to win. Two friends in a disagreement putting their friendship in legitimate jeopardy because the both have to win. A businessman or CEO putting the company at risk with bad decisions… because he/she has to win. A nation that drops bombs on civilians in retaliation for something… because of a need to win.

I’m reading this passage in Ephesians tonight, and the thought crosses my mind again: Jesus brings about reconciliation, in this case between Jewish and Gentile Christians. And he does it all wrong.

See, the way our world tends to resolve conflicts is one party in the conflict eventually proves themselves stronger, more powerful, more numerous, or more cunning, and forces the capitulation of the weaker party.  The weaker party surrenders to the stronger, and a sort of peace can be reached. So if a terrorist bombs you, the way to end terrorism is to bomb them into submission or something. Hence the desire to win.

But God brings about reconciliation in Christ… through his death and resurrection. Reconciliation comes about not through show of force and forcing the weaker party to surrender– God could do that any time God chooses, right?– but through the infinitely stronger and more powerful party humbling himself, taking on the form of a servant, and dying. He wins… by losing. He brings unity… through surrender and humility.

I wonder what would happen if pastors, churches, and people modeled this kind of reconciliation?

Worth thinking about.

Mark

LentBlog 2015, Day 2: Grace and Peace

Ephesians 1:1-2

 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

NRSV

Okey… So I think I’ve decided to begin at least with Ephesians during this season of Lent… thought I reserve the right to change mid-stream or go somewhere unexpected when I finish Ephesians.

The opening 2 verses of Ephesians are easy to overlook. They’re the signature, address, and salutation of the letter. They look pretty much the same as every other opening paragraph from Paul. He identifies himself as the author, says to whom the letter is written, and gives a blessing. They’re almost all the same in Paul, and it’s easy to blast past them.

But not tonight.

It’s the “grace and peace” that give me pause tonight.

The first thing Paul does is bless his readers. And he blesses them by wishing them grace and peace.

Grace is a biggie in Ephesians… in chapter 2 Paul reminds us salvation comes only by grace through faith. Peace is one I haven’t done much New Testament word study on, though שלם (shalom, shalem, basically meaning “peace”) is important in the O.T. Philippians talks about the Peace of Christ passing all understanding and guarding our hearts.  It’s not lost on me tonight that Paul wishes (or maybe pronounces?) grace and peace to his brothers and sisters in Ephesus.

I think the rest of v.2 is important… grace and peace come from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. I think sometimes we delude ourselves into thinking grace and/or peace really come from ourselves. Or at least what we do or earn or attain (in terms of peace, anyway).

For me, tonight, I find myself keenly sensing my need for both grace and peace. When I think about my life currently, “peace” is not the first word that comes to mind. So for Paul to pronounce grace and peace to his hearers, I hope I’m one of his hearers. And it helps to remember that both come from The Lord.

Lent is about a certain type of hunger. We fast things during this season, so that when we desire them, we are called to prayer. We hunger after righteousness etc. Tonight, I’m hungry for the peace that comes through grace. Maybe you are, too.

Blessings,

Mark