I learned to drive years before I got a permit. One of the things I have enjoyed since I was very young was observing the world around me…always watching for how things worked, how people behaved, and trying to figure out my place in it all. I learned to drive when I was very young and I learned it by watching what others were doing. I watched how my parents drove. Not only did I watch and learn how to drive the car itself, I watched how one behaves themselves behind the wheel. I saw this in other people to by observing their behaviors, seeing how people treat each other on the road and learning the all important principles of the art of passive-aggressive driving.
Out of all of this in my early driving years I drove quite a bit more aggressively than I do today. I can’t say that I have mastered the art of pacifistic driving but I have toned it down quite a bit. I am still working on not honking the horn. I see it as one car talking to another. Missy sees it as rude. She is probably right.
One of the things that has been hardest to let go of is that I am a rule follower. I am a concrete thinker and the rules are the rules. In an idealistic sense those who follow the rules get rewarded and those who break the rules should be punished…and somehow in my younger years I thought I was the person who needed to dole it out. That person who cuts in at the last minute shouldn’t be let in. They should have known better. That person who is on your bumper sure needs you to slow down even more or maybe even a tap of the breaks to teach them not to get so close.
One of the things that I found in being the keeper of the rules and the deliverer of the punishments was that you never have any peace when you are behind the wheel. You are constantly looking. Constantly anxious and constantly making others anxious.
As it turns out those who fail to see room for grace are never at peace.
This is a fundamental principle of life. If you want to have peace you need to be a person of grace.
This is true in theology and ministry. The most dogmatic and vicious among us are never at peace. There is always one more false teacher that needs to be found and punished…one more person who got their atonement theology wrong or their worship practices out of kilter. They need to be found. They need to be punished. The TEP (Theology-Ecclesiology Police) has put out a warrant for them and the bounty hunters commence the search.
Those who make it their mission to punish others will never find peace. Those who determine to be people of grace will find their life to be a lot more peaceful.
This is why grace and peace go together.
Another place we find this is when we struggle to give ourselves grace. A few months ago our youngest, Elijah (who just turned 6) was cheating on Solitaire. When we asked him what he was doing he said, “I am just giving myself some grace!” That isn’t exactly what I am talking about here but the sentiment is correct. Often the person we struggle the most to extent grace to is ourselves. Once again we find ourselves unable to find the peace that we so desperately desire.
No wonder Paul begins his letters with “Grace and peace to you…” because he knows they go together.
For more on the historical/cultural background on Paul’s use of “grace and peace” see the last section of this article – Ephesians: Purpose, Background and Structure