Skip to main content

You are Christ's letter: acting from the heart

You know how sometimes you have to do something because it pleases you, even though you know no one else will notice? 

Maybe you carefully colour-code the office stationery cupboard.  Or line up your children's games according to size.  Or keep your spice rack in alphabetical order.

Or peel your apple all in one go (Imgur)

In my case, it was matching Bible verses to the weekly theme at toddler group.  I've recently become part of the leadership team for Little Creations, and one of my responsibilities is updating the Powerpoint slides which scroll on the big screen while the group is running.  In an effort to have some slight Christian input (most attendees have no church affiliation), we have a Bible verse on one of these slides.


You see what I mean.  Most parents, on constant alert for two-year-olds misbehaving, will hardly spare a glance for words on a screen.  Of those who do, even fewer will consciously register a saying from the Bible, and practically no one will think, how clever, that relates to the craft activity today.

But it made me happy.  So why not.

Our theme for the half term was People Who Help Us.  It started off easy, with firefighters and paramedics - plenty of verses in the Bible relating to fire or healing (Proverbs 26:20 and Matthew 14:14 did the job).  Lollipop ladies were unknown, of course, in Biblical times, but I was pleased to find Psalm 138:7 - You stretch out your hand, and your right hand saves me.  The police obviously called for a verse on justice (Psalm 11:7), and dentists needed a reference to teeth (a comment on social justice from Proverbs 30:14).

Our final week's subject was postal workers.  I was expecting to use a somewhat tangential reference to deliveries (deliver us from evil, perhaps?), but I discovered an image from Paul that I had never noticed before.  Writing to the church in Corinth, he says, You show that you are Christ's letter, delivered by us.  You weren't written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God.  (2 Cor 3:3 CEB)

Paul is the Bible's letterwriter-in-chief.  Half of the New Testament is his letters to various people -  arbitrating church disputes, clarifying the new Christian beliefs, and simply overflowing with amazement about who Jesus is and what he did.  So it's not surprising that he uses a letter as an illustration at least once. 

The context is a reference to the letters of recommendation which, presumably, most itinerant preachers of the time carried.  Something to say, yes, this person has preached in Jerusalem, or Ephesus, or wherever, and knows what he's talking about.  Quite a reasonable custom, you would think, when churches were far-flung and communication was limited.

But Paul says scathingly, we don't need a letter to recommend ourselves to you, do we?  You're our letter!  The changes in your lives, by the Spirit of God, are what guarantee us as genuine, not some grubby piece of paper.  God himself is writing on your hearts.

Our cautious times require lots of pieces of paper to recommend us - DBS checks, references, certificates, qualifications.  Like in Paul's day, most of these are not unreasonable.  But what we're aiming for at Little Creations goes beyond all those bits of paper.  It's that genuineness that actually makes people's lives different.  That's what will make them recommend us.  And that's what they will notice, even when they don't read a word of our Powerpoint slides or our carefully prepared literature.

So I guess it's OK to do my happy things that no one else notices.  As long as I make sure to do some things that people do notice, too.  Not, as Paul is quick to point out, that I'm at all qualified to change anyone's life.  But because by my actions, I can show how God is writing on all of our hearts.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Reading for Spiritual Formation

Do you read books in order to live a better life? I read books for lots of reasons, ranging from escapism and enjoyment to information and obligation.  In some sense, every book we read lodges somewhere inside us, affecting who we are and how we react to life.  I am the product of many books (far too many, some would say!) Not my library! (Image: Pixabay) Last year, though, I read four books with the specific intention of growing spiritually.  These four books were chosen by the Renovaré Book Club.  Renovaré Book Club Renovaré wasn't a name I'd come across before.  Turns out that it's a Christian group founded by Richard Foster (who wrote Celebration of Discipline ) and involving Dallas Willard (who wrote The Spirit of the Disciplines ), which probably gives you a good idea of their emphasis!  I was impressed with the quality of resources offered with the book club - podcasts, articles, discussion boards, online Q&A - and I also thought they'd done a good job get

Baby Language

For some reason baby equipment is an area in which American English differs markedly from British English. As well as learning how to care for a baby, we had to learn a whole new vocabulary! Fortunately we are now fluently bilingual, and I have compiled a handy US-UK baby dictionary for you. Diaper n. Nappy Mom says if you can read this change my diaper. The first time you change one of these you will be all thumbs and stick the little adhesive tabs to yourself, the baby and probably the changing mat before you get them where they ought to go. A few years later you will be able to lasso a running toddler and change them before they even know what's happened (yes, I have seen it done). You will also get through more diapers than you ever thought possible, creating scary amounts of expense and waste. Hence we are now mostly using: Cloth diaper n. Reusable nappy Cool baby. No longer those terry squares, the main drawback is that there are now so many types it can be qu

our new apartment

Moving was a slightly surreal experience given that our new place looks almost exactly the same as the old one, except for being a different layout. That's what you get for living in a throw-'em-up-and-pack-'em-in apartment complex I guess - albeit a very nice one. So, entering apartment 433: To your right is the master bedroom: with en-suite bathroom: and looking back, from your left, that's a walk-in closet, door to the hallway and door to the bathroom: Following the layout so far? OK, go back to the hallway and put your back to the front door again, and this time walk straight forwards into the sitting room: As you can see, ahead of you is the door to the balcony: for which I have grand plans for a herb garden and other plants. Leading off the living room is the dining area: and if you walk through that and round to your right you reach the kitchen: Go back through the living room again: and if you turn right (