1999-03-04 - You are a Letter
2 Cor 3:1-3 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? 2 You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 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. (NAS)
Have you ever gone on a job interview? One of the things your perspective employer wants to see are references and letters of recommendation. There are very few things in this life that speak as strongly as the fact that someone is willing to put their reputation on the line for you. These references give credence to your accomplishments and to you. In the realm of karate, as students become Black Belts, their pedigree can become important. Who they have studied under has an impact with others. If you are good enough for someone to ask about the lineage of your studies, the fact that you have done so well will reflect well upon your instructors.
As the early church spread and the gospel flowed up and down the Roman highways, the stories of changed lives flowed with the message. Scoffers become less vocal when a new idea or way of doing things is backed up by success stories. Lives lived in dependence on God for the strength to live new lives were the successes. The early church became a letter, written by Jesus Christ, as a reference for Paul and others as they moved from town to town. The reputation of the church, the changes in the people, the things they willingly gave up, the lengths to which they were willing to hold to this Jesus went ahead of those first missionaries opening doors.
There are now, as there were then, those who make it their business to discredit the church. There is a saying someone gave to me a long time ago. "When someone speaks evil of you, have lived so that no will believe it." Your conduct becomes your letter of recommendation for you. And, you become a letter for others, written by the hand of Jesus Christ for the cause of the gospel. The catch is this, that the time must be invested beforehand. Boldness can carry the moment, logic can win the debate. Paul won many debates with the Jews, but never won their hearts. With the letter of recommendation, in the form of the reputation of the first century church, doors opened wide to the message of salvation. Not everyone accepted the message, but the known world was changed in a generation. The Roman world was rocked to its' foundations.
Be a letter for God.
Lord Jesus - help us to depend on Your for the strength to live changed lives. Not living under the drudge of rules, but in the joy of the freedom that comes from Your salvation. Write Your recommendation, by the Holy Spirit, on our hearts to those around us. Open doors for us. Amen.