Paul was not the only missionary spreading the good news of Christ. And the story told by those who ran in Paul’s circles was not the only message being spread. Many groups of missionaries traveled the land, often interpreting the message of Christ in very different ways. How were they to know whether to believe Paul’s interpretation of the good news of another’s? A letter of recommendation? A voucher from a trusted companion? No, Paul insists that the proof is in the pudding. To know whether a person’s word is good, view their actions; how they treat others, how honest or genuine they are, how regularly their words line up with the outcome of their behaviors, how they manage their self-care.
I wonder sometimes how well my words align with my actions. I’m smart and observant, and I know how to spin a story. But how genuine is my spin? When one asks how I am on a down day, can I be authentic and vulnerable, letting them know how I really feel? When I post on my social media how brilliantly everything is going in my life, am I being real? When I post an outing to Feed My Starving Children, do I dare mention that it was the only altruistic thing I’d done all month or do I make it seem as though I serve God’s people more often than I really do? Do I take advantage of the pseudo-anonymity of the internet to bash my friends and colleagues? In person or online, I could do a much better job of letting my life speak for itself; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Only then will my authenticity and vulnerability help me grow so that I can continue to become the person I pretend to be.
2 Corinthians 3:1-18
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Surely we do not need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared 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. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, chiseled in letters on stone tablets, came in glory so that the people of Israel could not gaze at Moses’ face because of the glory of his face, a glory now set aside, how much more will the ministry of the Spirit come in glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory! Indeed, what once had glory has lost its glory because of the greater glory; for if what was set aside came through glory, much more has the permanent come in glory!
Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.