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  1. Day 1 - On the Difference Between Living for Jesus and Living from Jesus
  2. Day 2 - Why the Bible Was Not Written for the World
  3. Day 3 - Why Do We Think Spiritual Blessings Are Immaterial?
  4. Day 4 - Are You Adopted?
  5. Day 5 - Why God’s Plan Is Not for My Life
  6. Day 6 - Only Two Kinds of People
  7. Day 7 - Would the Real Seekers Please Stand Up?
  8. Day 8 - Meet the Fellowship of the Holy Discontents
  9. Day 9 - Why We Must Understand the Real Problem
  10. Day 10 - On Starting Downton Abbey at Season Six
  11. Day 11 - On Starting a Jigsaw Puzzle at the Center
  12. Day 12 - On Picking up Our Pieces and Making Our Own Puzzle
  13. Day 13 - Those Walls of Hostility
  14. Day 14 - On Building Fireplaces
  15. Day 15 - From Amazing Grace to Astonishing Grace
  16. Day 16 - On the Difference between Information and Revelation
  17. Day 17 - Are You Aware of Your Inner Being?
  18. Day 18 - Why Love Must Become More Than We Thought It Was
  19. Day 19 - Are You Filled with the Fullness of God?
  20. Day 20 - Why Discipleship to Jesus outside of Relationships with Others Is Not Discipleship to Jesus
  21. Day 21 - One Body, Twenty-Something-Thousand Denominations?
  22. Day 22 - Why Down Is the New Up
  23. Day 23 - Calling All Apostles, Prophets, and Evangelists
  24. Day 24 - The Challenge of Growing up as a Grown-Up
  25. Day 25 - The Two Groups Down at the Church
  26. Day 26 - How Behavior Management Stunts Your Growth
  27. Day 27 - Would the Real Me Please Come Forth?
  28. Day 28 - The Junior-High Beast Within
  29. Day 29 - On Shifting the Center of Gravity in Your Life
  30. Day 30 - So What Are You (Really) Angry About?
  31. Day 31 - Until the Pattern Is a Person, It Remains a Puzzle
  32. Day 32 - The Real Problem with Acceptable Pornography
  33. Day 33 - On the Personal Devastation and Communal Decimation of Sexual Sin
  34. Day 34 - The Least Asked Most Important Question of Our Time
  35. Day 35 - Addicted to the Holy Spirit
  36. Day 36 - Why Love Is Blind and Marriage Is an Eye-Opener (Part 1 of 3)
  37. Day 37 - Why Love Is Blind and Marriage Is an Eye-Opener (Part 2 of 3)
  38. Day 38 - Why Love Is Blind and Marriage Is an Eye-Opener (Part 3 of 3)
  39. Day 39 - The Secret to Extraordinary Parenting
  40. Day 40 - On Telling the Impossible Story to Impossible Situations
  41. Day 41 - The Surprising Way of Becoming Strong in the Lord
  42. Day 42 - And though This World with Devils Filled . . .
  43. Day 43 - One Little Word Shall Fell Him
  44. Day 44 - Thanks, Tychicus
  45. Day 45 - The Grace and Peace of Puzzle Work
Lesson 45 of 45
In Progress

Day 45 – The Grace and Peace of Puzzle Work

Ephesians 6:23–24 NIV

Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

Consider This

And so it ends as it began, with salutations of grace and peace. What do these words even mean anymore? If I’m honest, I have too often seen them as the religious equivalent of, “So good to see you,” or, “Thanks so much for coming.” You know, “grace and peace.” I am aware of their enormous depth of meaning yet they hit people today as a blurry abstraction’somewhere between “hugs and kisses” and “God bless you.”

For Paul and the early Christians I think these words served as code words, representing not sentimental filler words but rather an entire world of meaning. Today “grace” can mean anything from a blessing said prior to a meal to a mulligan on the golf course. For Paul and the people of the way, “grace” had a profoundly narrow and specific meaning yet with the broadest reach and application imaginable. “Grace” meant: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Eph. 1:7 niv).

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:4–5 NIV).

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8 NIV).

How about peace? There’s another word that has come to mean everything and nothing. It mostly gets passed off as live and let live, right? Make love, not war. The biblical concept of peace (or shalom) has to do with the restoration of all that is broken. Peace means all the dislocated pieces of the shattered and scattered puzzle coming back together again into an integrated wholeness.

What did Paul have to say about peace in this letter? “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility . . . He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near” (Eph. 2:14, 17 NIV).

Most of what we hear when it comes to these salutations is the way grace would have spoken to Gentiles and peace to Jews. Might there be more to it? Could it be that grace makes the way for peace?

Could it be that the grace of God in Jesus Christ puts our shattered lives back together, and the peace of God in Jesus Christ puts our scattered relationships back together? “Grace” means restored relationship with God. “Peace” means restored relationship with neighbor. This convergence lands us in the heart of the heart of it all, according to Jesus: the love of God and neighbor. Now note the little phrase Paul tucked into his closing words: And love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

There’s a chant rising to prominence in our conflicted society these days. “No justice! No peace!” The louder it gets the further we seem to get from either. Might the truth be, “No grace. No peace”? Grace brought the greatest justice through the gravest injustice: the death of Jesus. Peace brought the greatest victory from the gravest loss: the resurrection of Jesus.

Remember how we started putting this puzzle together? We didn’t begin with the edges because there were none. We started with the center. We began with Jesus. The first piece of the puzzle is always the cross. It turns out to be the final peace.

This holy union of the grace of God and the peace of God, forever wedded at the cross, perfectly reveals the love of God not as an abstract ideal but as a real live person—Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man. “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Eph. 1:22–23 NIV).

As it ends, so must it begin again. It’s time to get back to the puzzle of our lives and churches. And how awesome is that?

The Prayer

Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is your grace and your peace come together as the glorious fire of your love. Thank you for making us alive together in him. Thank you for putting our lives and relationships back together. Thank you for your church. Awaken us to the glory of it all, for the sake of the world you love. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The Questions

What is on your highlight reel for Ephesians? What are some big takeaways?

Grace and peace. Where do you need grace in your life? Where do you need peace in your relationships?

How has Ephesians expanded and enriched your vision of the potential and possibilities of the big-C Church? How about your little-c local church?