Grace and Peace go together in New Covenant Scripture. As odd as this may sound, the pairing of Grace and Peace is more than a pro forma salutation. Grace and Peace pair together in order that God and God’s ministers might show the distinction between religious genius and lunacy.
Understand, of course, that all religion is nonsense on its face. I claim to talk to God daily. Walk into the general floor of any psychiatric ward and see how many religious visionaries you meet. My one round of chaplaincy training featured such a walk on just such a floor. The first fellow to address me asked me if I served as a minister. When I replied in the affirmative, he said, matter of factly, “Well, I am God. Get busy.”
Now, he may have been (God) and his prescription certainly had some merit (get busy) but he was where he was and I could leave when I wanted. The fine line between the inmate of the asylum and the guest chaplain is just that, one can leave and one has to stay. The fellow with Grace and Peace has a certain freedom, which he can use to “get busy.”
If it is nonsense to assert we have a personal relationship with God (which we do and claim it is the basis for all our religious understanding, to boot) we have to accept the judgments of our secular fellows who look at us askance, thence to keep their distance, free to leave our presence as we leave the lunatic asylum.
Granting, then, the obvious reality of religious lunacy and the fact that all religion appears lunatic to some outside the covenant, we still hold to this “proof of faith,” i.e., one peaceful religious genius validates the intrinsic value of religion. There may be a small distinction between religious genius and lunacy but there is a difference between the two. The pairing of Grace and Peace demonstrates how the religious genius navigates the stormy waters of life, into death and beyond.
One of the (mostly) forgotten heroes of the American Civil Rights Movement of the ’50s and ’60s was a man named Robert Moses. You can read various descriptions of him in the Pulitzer Prize Winning series on the King years in America written by Taylor Branch. One of the most haunting vivifications of this great man is “he seemed a soul of great peacefulness.” Inner peacefulness would be the great shield of faith during an era when all your opponent did to you was legal, while the least civil right you acted out was immediately deemed illegal.
Where do you get peace? I submit it must come from grace. Grace verifies your faith and so makes the present possible and the future luminous. So, grace verifies your faith and peace, once felt and lived out durably proves the grace you receive is divinely infused into your spirit.