We usually end letters with a greeting – ‘Kind regards’, All the best’, ‘Lots of love’. In New Testament times you put the greeting first. That’s nice, isn’t it? At least, if it’s a nice personal greeting!
It occurred to me that when God wants to say something to us, He so often starts with a greeting. You can regard the New Testament letters as God’s word to us – they are! And they always start with what God wants to say to us before anything else – things like: ‘Grace and peace be multiplied to you!’
Grace: that’s everything that He wants us to have. And it never runs out. John says: ‘Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given’ (John 1:16). Have you ever watched the waves coming into a beach on a windy day? No sooner has one broken than another’s already rearing. And another, and another ... When the wind is blowing there’s a never-ending run of breakers. And when we are living in the wind of the Spirit, there’s always grace after grace.
And peace. It follows grace because grace produces peace. Peace isn’t just feeling comfortable. It’s stability, abundance, security, fulfilment. It is, as Paul says, something beyond human understanding, dependant, not on our circumstances, but on His grace.
God wants this grace and peace to be ‘multiplied’. Not just added. This is what we call exponential growth. Start with one, then two, then four, then sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four … God’s grace and peace are never exhausted – so long as we are in the right place to receive them.
Where’s that? It’s ‘in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord’. ‘In’ suggests a place – ‘in London’. Knowing God isn’t knowing about Him, it’s a personal relationship. And to truly know somebody you have to be with them – in the same place. That’s why Paul so often describes Christians as people who are ‘in Christ’.
It’s as though Peter starts his letter with a question (and it’s God’s question): Are you in Christ? If so, grace and peace will be multiplied to you. That’s how he topped his letter. He tails it in the same way: ‘Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’. As you get to know Him better (grow in knowing Him – have a look at Ephesians 1:17), His grace and peace get multiplied in our lives.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the overflowing abundance of Your grace and peace. Lord, please keep me close to You today, that I might know You better and receive Your grace and peace in all their fullness. Amen.
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