Around this time of year, we see a lot of people wearing college gear in every color and with every school logo. When March Madness comes around, we see fans proudly announcing to the world that they are loyal to their team. We gather from their clothing that they are basketball fans, and we know where their loyalties lie. What’s more, we often judge their school by their behavior. If we see them misbehaving, we’re tempted to judge all fans and students of their school.
Paul reminds the Christians in Corinth that they now belong to Christ. They bear the name of Christ in the world like a new white robe—or maybe a shirt that reads “Christ.” Wherever you go, Paul says, you represent Christ. You are an ambassador for Christ, a messenger of God.
What message from God do we convey to the world? The message we should send, says Paul, is this: God has reconciled the world to Godself. God has not counted our sins against us. God has washed away our past. (See Joshua 5.) God has come looking for us. (See Psalm 32.) God runs out to meet us. (See Luke 15.)
Do we live in such a way that others get the message? Every day we encounter persons who feel unlovable. We look into the eyes of folks who feel unworthy of God’s love. We see persons weighed down by their past. We encounter those who are hiding themselves out of fear or shame. What a glorious privilege it is to carry the message of God’s reconciling love for all people! How can you be an ambassador for Christ today?
God of love, sometimes I forget that I bear your name. I act in ways that divide rather than reconcile. Forgive me, and help me joyfully proclaim your love in how I act, what I say, and how I think about others. 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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