|“Grace and peace to you from God our |
Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…”
Do you enjoy receiving Christmas cards and letters? I greatly enjoy reading the greetings from friends and family. And, while I understand some people don’t like Christmas letters that tell of a family’s events over the past year, I enjoy reading these missives very much. In fact, I look forward with great anticipation to see what arrives in each day’s mail delivery.
Imagine if you were a Christian in one of the early churches and you suddenly found a letter waiting for you from the man who had so significantly contributed to your personal spiritual formation and to the growth and vitality of your local church. That’s how the Galatians felt when they received a letter from the Apostle Paul.
A significant part of their excitement was elevated when they read the very first words of greeting that Paul wrote to them, as recorded in Galatians 1:4-5:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
My! What a cherished greeting this was. Paul gave them a blessing, as well as stating a reason for them to praise God. And, he did this all in a few short words. Nothing could encourage these new Christians more than to have their spiritual mentor offer a blessing of God’s grace and peace.
You must remember that these believers lived in very troubled times. Rome had conquered most of the then-know world. The Roman rule was harsh and relentless in taking money from their captives in order to continue the many construction projects in Rome. To think that, in the midst of such chaos, someone would offer them words of comfort and encouragement was a blessing beyond belief.
We live in a world that has its own unique kind of harshness. And, that harshness has certainly increased over the course my life. So, words of comfort, encouragement, and peace mean all the more in these troubled days.
Wait! I have an idea!
Why don’t you and I, as followers of Jesus, make it a point to spread words of encouragement, comfort, joy, and peace to everyone who crosses our pathway this Christmas season? I think we could actually make a difference in someone’s life. While many people are feeling heartbroken and discouraged, we could bring a moment or two of genuine joy into their otherwise darkened existence.
I’m up for this. How about you?