The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
For Paul, that’s the bottom line. It is also why I have remained a Methodist. Grace, according to John Wesley, is prevenient. That means, God’s grace is active in one’s life even before you know there is God, much less grace. It is like being born, dependent on air to breath without even knowing that it is air that we breath. But then, Wesley said there is a point in one’s life when grace is justifying. We recognize that God is. We welcome and accept the grace that God is pouring into our lives. It is like the song: “Grace like rain falls down on me, and hallelujah all my stains are washed away…they’re washed away.” God is suddenly personal. This is what is called the personal relationship with God. And it leads to sanctifying grace which is a lifelong process of transformation where we are being made holy.
Grace in the beginning. Grace in the end. God’s grace surrounding me throughout my life. And for Paul, that’s the bottom line. Twenty-five years before this letter was written to the Thessalonians, no one outside the small town of Nazareth had even heard the name of Jesus. And now people in a large city in Macedonia were hailing him as “Lord” and “Christ” and allowing the grace of “our Lord Jesus Christ” to transform their lives and their world.
This same grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is falling like rain into your life. Two days ago, I was walking on the beach when it began to rain. The rain was warm and refreshing in a way I don’t usually experience. It felt good. It felt right. It felt like grace. Welcome, accept, embrace this grace as the way to true life.