11 Finally, brothers and sisters,[a] farewell.[b] Put things in order, listen to my appeal,[c] agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. 13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of[d] the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
Paul was one of the most prolific writers among the early followers of Jesus. Thirteen of the letters included in our New Testament come to us under Paul’s name and influence. The early church considered Paul’s words to churches and church leaders to be scripture – the very Word of God. In wondering what God might say to us in our time, I have been reading the closing remarks in some of Paul’s letters.
Paul wrote several letters to the church in Corinth. (Some scholars suggest that we find evidence of maybe 5 letters in the 2 that are tagged for the Corinthian Christians in the New Testament.) Paul had commended these friends for their faith. Paul had condemned them for some of their petty arguments and the divisions they promoted in what should be the unified body of Christ. Paul and the Corinthians Christians shared a passion for ministry and a love for their Lord Jesus. As he closes his second letter, Paul reminded of what would keep them together.
Agree with one another and live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Paul had shared lots of advice over the course of these letters. Paul had penned that famous definition of love in I Corinthians chapter 13 (Love is patient and kind. Love is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way…..) Now, in closing, Paul tells these people who are united in following the ways of Jesus, to agree with one another and to live in peace.
How are they to do that? They might want to start by focusing not on what could divide them, but rather on what was most powerful thing in their lives – the presence of the God of love and peace.
When each of us focus on God’s love and the peace and harmony that God wishes for us, we are able to greet others who wish for that with a holy kiss. What we begin, God is able to bring to completion in us.
As I live my life today surrounded by others who wish for peace and harmony in our lives and world, let me know that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of[ the Holy Spirit will be with me. Amen.