Living Letters

By Meredith |

You, Yourselves are our letter, written on our own hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our own ministry, 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 3:2&3}

The writings of Paul have a certain confidence, a certain vibrato of assurance that continually draw me back to them. I suppose that being struck blind, corrected by Jesus then healed of your blindness will do that, make one unwaveringly certain. I hunger for that type of confidence and when I read the Pauline books I can feel it growing. In classic form, that is what we see Paul demonstrating in the beginning of 2 Corinthians 3.

I have been re-compiling my resume over the last few weeks. Taking one of those, “is my life heading where I want it to,” pauses and reassessing. Putting a resume together is essentially saying to someone you likely have never met, “this is what I’ve done” and “here are some people to prove it.” Well, it turns out, this is not such a new practice. In the New Testament it was common place to write, or carry, letters of recommendation from one city to another. Something that said, “this person is legitimate and you should take care of them.” Makes sense to me. With no cell phones, or emails or even Instagram to check their track record. But, apparently, Paul is not in the habit of carrying letters of recommendation.

Instead, he outlines these few powerful lines that tell us a great deal about his intention and history. He tells the Corinthian church that he does not need a letter because they are his “letter,” they are his proof. What an incredible statement that the validation of who you are comes from the lives that you touch, the people that you have influenced. To be confident that you have lived your life so intentionally that an entire group of people could be your evidence of authenticity. But Paul takes it a step further saying that the Corinthian church is, “written on our hearts.” Which, even in English, has a nice sound to it; but, we are loosing a little of the gusto behind Paul’s statement in translation. Paul uses “heart” not to refer to the emotion they might feel for them, rather, it refers to the fundamental nature of a person. Paul is saying, at the core of who we are, widdled down to our essence, we carry you there with us. Which always turns me inward to ask the questions, “Who am I carrying on that level?” Certainly we cannot, and are not called to, carry with us everyone we meet. But there are people, for each of us, whom we are to carry at the core of ourselves.

Paul’s purpose was to shake up the traditions of Judaism and implement the Gospel of Grace that Jesus ignited. And he is always on mission. He goes for the jugular here by comparing his letter written in Spirit and on human hearts to an inadequate letter written in ink and on tablets of stone. The tablets of stone are the piece he just couldn’t resist. The Mosaic Law of the old covenant was THE tablet of stone, and Paul is saying, “forget about that, the new covenant means it is written on your heart.” Gasp. The room goes quiet. That is the essence of Paul’s message that we see occurring over and over throughout his writings. A salvation that comes from rules is a salvation we can never hold on to, but a salvation that comes from transformed hearts is a salvation that holds onto us.

Friends, it is only in that salvation that we are able to live confident lives, carry others in our hearts, and be radically on mission every day.