Short Meditations on Peace 1. Peace?
Col 1:2 To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ in Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father
I recently started a series of ‘short meditations’ in Colossians 1 and when I got to the word ‘peace’ in verse 2, I became stuck. It was not that I had nothing to write but whatever I wrote seemed inadequate. There needed to be something more. After a while of this happening I concluded I should take them out of that series and create a separate short series tackling this subject alone, so here we go.
Why should peace be one of the things that Paul wants for each church that he writes to because in virtually every letter he writes, he asks for peace for his readers at the beginning? What is so important about peace that he wants it again and again for his readers?
Perhaps the preliminary question should be, what is peace? My initial thought is that it is a state of ease of mind, of tranquillity, of absence of stress, absence of worry and so on. Immediately that starts providing food for thought for why, I believe, peace is such a rare commodity, and that includes in the lives of Christians, in life today. But I am aware that it is more than that. One of the footnotes in my study Bible says, “Peace is not just the absence of conflict but echoes the Old Testament concept of ‘shalom’ when a person’s life with God and with everything else is in ordered harmony, both physically and spiritually and ‘all is well’ “
In Romans it comes to us as,”Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom 1:7b) Now I have always thought that ‘grace’ includes all of God’s resources that are available to us because of the work of Jesus on the Cross, and ministered to us by the Holy Spirit, and that should thus include peace, but Paul sees it as something so important that he separates it from grace and, to the Romans at least, emphasises that it comes from the godhead. He repeats that in 1 Cor, 2 Cor, Gal, Eph & Phil, and it is only when we come to Colossians that he omits reference to Jesus. In 1 Thess he simply says “Grace to you and peace” but in 2 Thess he reverts to the full formula, also seen in Titus and Philemon. In 1 & 2 Timothy he adds ‘mercy’ in the formula.
So what does this teach us overall? It says that for the apostle Paul this peace, this sense of wholeness and wellbeing before God, and our lives generally, is all important. Grace and peace are the only things he asks for every single one of the recipients of his letters and peace, being so important is marked out from grace in general as something we all need. If it is absent, and my contention is that it is in so many, then we need to look at why and what can be done to regain it.