Philippians 1:1-11

Right out of the gate Paul hits me in the spiritual teeth. “Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Grace to you, and peace. What if we approached our conversations that way? Our relationships? Our daily interactions? It has become almost expected to do quite the opposite. Responses stocked up and ready for whatever someone may say. At best, considering what our response may be while the other person is speaking–hardly listening if listening at all.

Consider our tone even in our advocacy for prayer or religions symbols such as the Decalogue. So often we use prayer or our Christianity to make a point. A point of us and them. There seems to be something bordering on anger, or perhaps smack dab in the middle of anger. “We pray!” sometimes comes almost as a challenge or a warning. A barrier. A wall to separate the righteous from the unrighteous.

How much different could it be, if our lead was “grace to you, and peace…”?

I’m guilty too. Don’t misunderstand. I allowed my own anger and wall building to spew out in an outburst towards one of my dear friends and colleagues. I could try and make an excuse and say that I am wound pretty tight, and that I’ve bottled up much of my emotion. And if not an excuse that is some measure of an explanation. So I should consider others with grace and peace. I don’t know what they are going through. I don’t know how they’ve processed this pandemic or the other million things that are swirling around.

Grace to you, and peace…

From the Trinity that provides hope and life and love. From the Son who is the Prince of Peace. The one who exhibits ultimate Humility. And as Paul continues on in these first 11 verses, the one who “began a good work… and will bring it to completion.”

It’s not a straight line. What I mean is that we will suffer and falter. I can be angry and rude with the ones that I love the most. I am, after all, not the source of grace and peace. But I am filled with it thanks be to the One. The apology and contrition that comes afterward is an expression of grace and peace. An outpouring of it sometimes. But the work will be completed in us. That is good news indeed.

And the ultimate work will be completed on the day of Jesus. I try to learn to rest in that Hope each day. Each moment. And I believe as much as I can believe that the work will not only be completed, but in a real sense has already been completed. Both and. Already and not yet. The Age to Come burst in to the current age as N.T. Wright might explain it. That because of Jesus we can live in Grace and Peace even now. We don’t just have to anticipate it. The powers of darkness have already been given their death blow. Glory!

And so may our “love overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight.” Grace to you, and peace…”

Paul and Timothy, servants[a] of Christ Jesus,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops[b] and deacons:[c]

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

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart,[d] for all of you share in God’s grace[e] with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10 to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11 having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

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