Daily Devotion – November 23, 2020 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

1 Corinthians 1:3-9
1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1:4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus,
1:5 for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind–
1:6 just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you–
1:7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1:8 He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1:9 God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Grace to you and peace.

Both Jesus and Paul were good at extending grace and peace to those who followed them. But what does that mean? In this short passage, Paul sums it up pretty well in verses 5-7.  (5) It’s about having been enriched by the gifts of God, received when we receive Christ in our baptism.  (6) It’s about sharing the testimony to our faith in a fellowship or community of believers. (7) And it’s about not having to live in fear of whether we are doing the right things to earn eternal life. How do we know we don’t have to worry?

Because God has given us all these things, and God will strengthen us, like the Corinthians, to the end of time.  God is faithful. And God is our benefactor.

We humans may resist this idea – that our salvation is up to God and we cannot do anything about it. We kind of like working our way to heaven by the sweat of our good deeds. And especially, on our not so charitable days, we like knowing that we will get there and others who are lazy or mean will NOT get there.

Except guess what? God has found a lot to love even in those selfish, lazy people we want to relegate to a non-heavenly eternity. God loves them so much he will raise them along with us to eternal life.

You know, that will be a big surprise for all the folks who look down their noses at others for not living as “righteous” a life as themselves, won’t it?    Because it’s pretty clear, reading both Paul and Luther, that salvation is not about works. It’s about being beloved children of God. Cheek by jowl next to all the other beloved children of God.

“Grace and peace to you,” says Paul.  “Peace be to you, my peace I leave with you,” says Jesus.

Let us be at peace. God is the judge and God loves us as God’s very own children. God wants us near forever. Aren’t we blessed?!

Lord God, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for giving us the gifts of grace and peace and eternal life with you.  Help us not to miss that peace, but instead to notice it and experience it every day.    Amen.