Letters of Christ

Few if any will ever surpass the metaphoric and poetic genius of Paul in his masterful ability to paint a picture in mind of another. Through his epistles he draws upon and captures profound imagery to clarify the portrait of who we are in Christ. The letters to the Corinthians alone are loaded with them. The Body (1 Corinthians 12). Agrarianism (1 Corinthians 3). Architecture (1 Corinthians 3). Temple (1 Corinthians 3). Leven (1 Corinthians 5). Soldiering (1 Corinthians 9). Marriage (2 Corinthians 11). The Aroma of Christ (2 Corinthians 2). Stewards of the mysteries of Christ (2 Corinthians 4). Jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4). Ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5). What beautiful illustrations of the intangible suspended upon the grid-work of our physical world.

Nowhere, is he more at the level of perfection than in the first verses of 2 Corinthians 3. The metaphor is the simple vision of quill and paper, upon which a letter is penned. Paul defines his mission as stewarding letters.

“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts”(2 Corinthians 3:1-3).

Some felt that Paul still owed them some measure of validation of his apostolic calling–proof that the hand of God was upon him. They desired tangible evidences of his ministry! Paul had led them to Christ, founded their church, and had continued to foster growth in their spiritual walks.

Paul communicates they had to look no further than their own lives for commendations of his ministry. To Paul, those in Corinth whose hearts had been written upon bear the witness of the Divine; they have become living epistles, living letters of truth as testimonies to the world, and thus, validating the ministry of Paul.

These “letters” were the fruit of Paul’s efforts to communicate the transformational presence of Christ in a person’s life. In that these letters were observed, or read by people, these “epistles” communicated the presence of God which they could enjoy as well.

In reality though, the credit of authorship is ascribed to Christ; Paul was simply the “mailman” so to speak who was caring for the delivery of such correspondence. Christ is, was, and always will be the author of such transformation in any person’s heart. Christ is the Author of such amazing grace who continues doing such a good work in those whom He has called.

The metaphor indelibly prints this picture upon our minds. It is not a mere quill and paper, but the tablet written upon is the heart of the person, the essence of being, the very soul of any given individual. Even better than that, the ink employed is the Spirit of the living God–Wow! Let that soak in! Christ works in conjunction with the Holy Spirit to scribe such great missives.

How had Christ written upon their hearts? Buy delivering them. Healing them of hurts. Rescuing them from their sinful ways. And giving them such a sure and certain hope for the future. These letters affirm God’s grace upon each one. Maturing Christians are the true credentials of a healthy ministry.

God is the supreme author of life, and has allowed the powerful testimony of your life to be witnessed by all people. You are a letter to be read by the world for the glory of Christ.

Open up!

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

A Heightened Need

When you think about it, one of the consequences of sin being introduced into the world was an increased need for mankind. Mankind had it made. The table was set. God had provided all they ever could have wanted. Even the food required was generously given, simply for the taking. But, sin changed all that.

Yes. Once mankind ushered sin into the Garden the door was flung wide-open to a world whose need would continue to grow exponentially. Spiritual trials would necessitate help. As the physical elements would become increasingly challenging, man would need assistance. Food would become more difficult to acquire due to thorns and thistles. Drought would bring other agricultural burdens. Relational challenges in the marriage would demand support. Changing environmental hostilities would require different kinds of clothing to be worn; clothes to stay warm. Footwear to protect the feet. In time, medical ailments would need to be addressed. Continue reading “A Heightened Need”

Under Pressure

You may have heard the analogy of how living the Christian life is like a diamond being formed. A diamond is formed by taking carbon, applying time and pressure.  Similarly, a Christian “diamond” is made by taking a carbon life-form and applying time and pressure. A Christian’s faith and character is developed as we are put into situations that test us and allow us to grow. James 1:2-4 tells us to, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” A spiritual diamond! Brought to the point of perfection in Christ.

As I reflect on it, there is something missing in this comparison. A compressed piece of coal is still an unrefined rock, dull and dirty. There is still work to be done. The skill of a Master cutter is needed. For that stone to become brilliant, it needs to be cut and fashioned in such a way as to maximize the reflection of light. That means that the rough edges and dirty areas must be chipped away. It is only after this work is performed that the stone is made ready to capture light and reflect it all around. Continue reading “Under Pressure”