The Corinthian church is a mixed bag of folks. They are rich and poor, men and women, enslaved persons and slave owners. Through the power of the Holy Spirit they have all come to believe in Jesus Christ, and now they are trying to figure out how to live together as the church. How can an enslaved person and a slave-owner be one in Christ? How can a poor person be as worthy of honor as a rich person?
As they struggle to form a new kind of community, Paul reminds them that life in Christ gives each of them a new identity. All their worldly labels have been washed away, and they now belong to Christ. They are a new creation!
Now they have a responsibility to live differently in the world. They can no longer live by the old rules. They cannot allow the lines of rich and poor, male and female, enslaved and free to divide them. Paul tells them that they are now ambassadors for Christ, and it is their ministry to bring reconciliation where there has been division.
The world today is just as divided as it was in Paul’s day. Like the people of Corinth, we experience deep lines of division based on class, sex, race, ethnicity, political party, and the list goes on. But our identity in Christ washes away all our worldly labels. We are a new creation! Our faith and identity in Christ call us to a ministry of reconciliation that breaks down the walls that divide people from one another.
How can you be an ambassador for Christ in your life today? Can you reach across a dividing line and offer friendship and reconciliation?
God of all, help me to let go of worldly labels for myself and others. Help me to recognize the oneness of your people and to serve as an ambassador of your love. Amen.
Lent is a time for focusing on our need for God and for remembering God’s abundant resources for filling that need. When the Israelites finally pass into Canaan, they observe the Passover as a reminder of God’s deliverance of them from Egypt. The psalmist, traditionally David, rejoices in the fact that God does not count his sins against him. Paul declares that through Christ, God has made everything new. God no longer holds our sins against us, and we in turn appeal to others to accept this free gift. Jesus eats with sinners and tells the story of the prodigal son to demonstrate that no matter how far we stray, God will always welcome us home with open arms. God never stops pursuing us, even if we feel unloved or unworthy.
Read Joshua 5:9-12. What stories do you tell about your faith? What do these stories help you remember?
Read Psalm 32. When have you hidden from God? When has God been your hiding place?
Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. We are ambassadors for Christ. How does your life display for others that life in Christ eliminates worldly identity labels?
Read Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32. Do you identify with the prodigal son, the elder son, or the father in the parable? Are you ready to rejoin God’s household on God’s terms? Are you ready to welcome everyone home?
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