"Grace and PEACE to you..." (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2).
Ephesians 2:8 reveals an astounding truth that Christians have salvation by grace and therefore peace with God. There is an aspect of peace to which Paul refers that is especially relevant to us today.
The word "peace" is often the translation of the word "shalom" in the Old Testament, which means "safety, security, prosperity, well being." In the New Testament, peace is defined by a leading authority as the "tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatever sort that is."
That''s a big order! To have tranquility, to be content with our earthly lot, to feel safe among life''s waves and to have well being is not an automatic response. As we look at the challenges of life, uncertainty, fear or even anger may be among a repertoire of our responses. The fact that we have peace with God in our salvation does not mean we feel the tranquility and contentment available. Just because we are friends with God (John 15:15) doesn''t mean we automatically feel close to Him.
So, how can one experience the "peace" that Paul extends to his readers?
An answer is found in the root word for "peace." The verb form of the Greek word for "peace" means "to join." That is, when we have peace with God, we are "joined," "connected" with or "attached" to God. This connection with God occurs not only at conversion, but it is a process we renew daily through the grace He provides to us.
Here''s an example. One of my best friends growing up was Paul. We lived close to one another, went through school together and hung out together. But when we moved to Boston some 15 years ago, I lost track of him. Recently I sought him out, found his number and called him up. We talked for a long time and reconnected after all these years.
Questions: Was Paul still my friend during the last 15 years? Yes. But was I connected with him during these years? Hardly. So it can be with God.
A sense of abiding peace is not automatic, even with a disciple. Real peace with God, the type that "transcends all understanding" (Philippians 4:7), the type that produces "contentment" is learned (Philippians 4:12) and developed by daily connection with Christ as we become strengthened in Him (Philippians 4:13). Though God gives us peace, we access it through our "connecting" with God.
We must develop a "God-awareness mindset." When we have our time of reading God''s word and talking to Him in prayer, do we leave Him there or take "His presence" with us throughout our day? Do we revert to prayer throughout our day? Do we remember His word as we go about?
The truth remains that we stand in grace, but we must access the daily peace that is available to us in God.
This is another article in the series "What Did First Century Disciples Hear?" Dan has a M.A. in Biblical Languages from Abilene Christian University.