The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
2 Corinthians 13:14
I love this verse.
I love it because it is an establishing verse for the doctrine of the trinity. Herein are the Son, the Father, and the Holy Spirit all mentioned individually though we know with certainty that Paul taught that there is only one God. I do not want to spend too much time on this, but I love how casually Paul tosses the doctrine of the trinity out there and expects that his audience knows what he is on about.
I love it because it is a list of things I should experience as a believer and the list is in order.
First, I should experience the grace of Christ. Grace is getting what I do not deserve. If I deserve punishment and Hell and eternal damnation — and everyone does — then not getting that is mercy. But God does more, He restores my relationship with Him and permits me entrance into Heaven; He blesses me and works to not only wipe away the punishment for what I have done wrong but to expunge the presence of wrong-doing in me at all. He goes far beyond mere mercy and gives so much more than I could ever hope to deserve. That is grace.
Second, grace permits me to experience the Love of God. Not just to experience it as a recipient, but to begin to walk in it. God Loves every man, woman, and child on the planet. He made us. As a creator of things (art, music, story), I can state pretty conclusively that I love the things I create. Even — sometimes especially — the things that frustrate me the most. That is not, I think, what Paul has in min. Everyone experiences that Love, though they may not be cognizant of it. Not everyone is able to walk in the Love of God. In point of plain fact, no one is able to walk in the Love of God until they have met with the grace of God. There are loving people in the world, but their love does not get anywhere near the level of God’s Love. And God works that love into those who are His. There are those who claim to be His and do not evidence this Love increasing within them. I would question whether or not those individuals are truly God’s — including myself, if His Love is not increasing in me.
Third and final, God’s Love manifests in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. The idea is that grace brings me to God Who begins to work His Love into and through me and this brings me into fellowship; intimate connection with God and with other believers who are also in God.
I have met with God’s grace and I have seen the moments when He works His Love into and through me — may those moments become more regular until they are the mainstay of my existence — and I have experienced those moments of being close to God and my fellow believers — may this increase, as well.
Father, let these things not only be with me, but also in me and through me. May Your grace and Love define me so that I may be close to You.