You and I are God’s love letter to the world. That is St. Paul’s message this morning.
“You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart” (verses 2 and 3).
St. Paul has done it again – he’s given us a provocative, visionary image of who God has called us to be.
Again and again, I can’t help but notice how many times and in how many ways the Lord is trying to teach us that He has entrusted His glorious ministry to His people, to teach us that what Jesus Christ accomplished in the flesh, He is continuing through the Spirit who is incarnated in His people. We may even think in terms of the ministry of Jesus Christ as existing in three phases. In the first phase, God worked through the letter of the Law and through tablets of stone. This first or Old Covenant was glorious! When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, His face glowed (and, remembering yesterday’s lesson, he probably had the aroma of an encounter with God) and was so glorious that the people could not look him in the face.
But Moses’ glory was only a reflected glory, and that Old Covenant, as glorious as it was, passed away. In the New Covenant, Moses is replaced by Jesus, the Son of God Himself. While Moses’ face glowed, it was the glory and the glowing of the moon, that is, a reflected glory of the Sun. Jesus, however, is the Sun (Son) Himself, and His glory is original with Him. In the glorious New Covenant, God’s Law, as prophesied, is now written on men’s hearts and not just on stone tablets.
But this New Covenant does not end with the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. As great as was the earthly ministry of Jesus, we must remember that His earthly body was limited in time and space. He could only heal and preach to and live among a relatively few people at a time. But when Jesus is Crucified, Resurrected, Ascended and breathes forth His Spirit into His Body, His kingdom, power, and glory are magnified even more!
We have been called by God to continue the ministry of this New Covenant. Made into Christians, that is disciples of Jesus Christ and members of His Body, inhabited by the Holy Spirit, we are His ministers. We all, Paul says in verse 18, with unveiled faces (because Christ is with us and in us) behold in a mirror the glory of the Lord. And we are transformed into the same image (of Christ) from glory to glory by the Holy Spirit.
So the glory and ministry of God moves in this way: from the reflected glory of Moses and the Old Covenant to the representative glory of Jesus in His physical person to the shared glory of His mystical Body the Church over all space and time. We, now, are participants in the glory and ministry of Jesus Christ.Another way of seeing this is that we are God’s letters to the world. Jesus is the Word of God, God’s message to humanity. But if God can squeeze Himself into the thin paper pages of my Bible, which is also the Word of God, incarnated in a manner of speaking, then I know that the Word of God who dwells in us through the Holy Spirit can also make us His word, His letter to the world.
In fact, as we carry Christ with us wherever go, and act and speak and smell like Him, then we really are His messengers and His apostles. It really is through us that the world will see God through the Son.
Did you catch that? You are God’s living letter to the world. We might even say that in one sense, you are God’s Bible. How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe on Him in whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?
You are God’s love letter to the world.
Don’t leave God’s love letter to the world unmailed and unsent. If those to whom we are sent refuse to receive us and stamp on God’s letter “Return to Sender,” that is to their condemnation. But we must deliver the Good News through our very lives. We are God’s love letter to the world.
Therefore, how we choose to live each day makes all the difference in the world. Sometimes God may call us to do extraordinary things; sometimes we will be blessed to be the ones who see the first shoot of a baby Christian emerging, or the first baby fruit develop on the branch. But most of the time God speaks through us to the world through our daily faithfulness in the “normal” things He brings us each day. We are God’s love letter to the world, but each day God may only write part of His message through us, and people will only read part of it. Daily faithfulness is therefore essential.
We should remember that God speaks through all of us together. It is almost as if we are all encoded and bear part of the message, but only if we love and live and speak together will the world be able to receive the entirety of God’s message for them.
You are God’s love letter to the world today. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night should stay you from the swift completion of your appointed rounds.
Resolution: I resolve today to remember that I am God’s message and messenger today. I further resolve to look for at least one opportunity to consciously act like God’s love letter to the world today.
Prayer: Father, thank You for entrusting Your heavenly ministry to us. Thank You for sharing Your glory with such earthen and broken vessels. As we learn to live and love as Your ministers in the world, may You give us grace today to think, speak, and act in such a way that the world may see You in us.
Points for Meditation:
1. Reflect on any “missed opportunities” you may have had in the past to speak God’s words to someone. Use this reflection to prepare you to speak more readily for your Lord.
2. Reflect on how someone in your life has been like God’s love letter to you.
© 2013 Fr. Charles Erlandson