Live in peace with grace, love and communion

Published 11:15 am Thursday, September 24, 2015

By Rev. Dale Brown

At the end of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians he writes, “Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” (NRSV) 

This is the end of a particularly difficult letter for Paul.  He is writing to the church in Corinth, and he’s heard that they are having trouble. There is some immorality, they have split into groups who squabble constantly and they have disregard for each other.

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A lot of this letter is scolding them for it. Now at the end of the letter, he is giving his final advice, his final hope. He gives practical suggestions about putting things in order and agreeing and living with one another in peace.

All great advice, but I wonder how well it was received — and how can we follow this advice? It can really only be done with God’s help, with those things that Paul mentions in his benediction at verse 11: grace, love, and communion, God’s grace, love and communion.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. What is grace?  When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day’s pay for his time that is a wage. When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for his performance that is a prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service or high achievements that is an award.

But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award yet receives such a gift anyway, that is a good picture of God’s unmerited favor. This is what we mean when we talk about the grace of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The love of God. That love is shown in the gift of Jesus Christ (John 3:16).

The communion of the Holy Spirit. Our church has a monthly Soup for the Soul where we fellowship as we prepare soup for shut-ins or those going through difficult times — one way of showing communion.

Grace, love, communion.  It is what God has given and shown to us in the Trinity.  With these we can put things in order, agree with one another and live in peace.

DALE BROWN is the pastor of Cumberland and Guinea Presbyterian Churches. His email is