“You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered 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.“ [2 Cor 3:2-4 ESV]
Paul highlights Christ’s accomplishment in the Corinthian church not his own. His spirituality and their spirituality are not self-generated but is provided by Christ. He uses the example of an epistle, a letter to explain how Christ is the source of true spirituality.
First he says, “clearly you are an epistle of Christ.” (2 Cor 3:3) The author and sender is Christ. You are the expression of what is on His mind. This is Paul’s second reminder that they are of Christ and that peace that should characterize all the churches of saints (see 1 Cor. 14:33).
Have you ever thought about the purpose of the Super Bowl? The purpose of the Super Bowl is to determine the greatest team. The purpose of the Super Bowl is NOT to determine the greatest player. Sure, the NFL recognizes the MVP, but that’s not the purpose of this game. Paul takes the Corinthian church back to their charter, that as a team their purpose is not to cast their vote against Paul and do their own thing, but to communicate what is on Christ’s mind to the world by doing Kingdom business.
Second, when Paul says “you are our letter from Christ delivered by us” (v.3) he describes Christ’s letter delivered through his obedient service. As Christ dictated, Paul wrote. Christ uses Paul to recruit and train his team. Paul is saying “you are our responsibility.” He is responsible for their spiritual upbringing once Christ begins the spiritual work in each person.
Third he describes how they are (3:3) “written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God” (2 Cor 3:3. “Spirit of God the living God” describes the spiritual nature of what Christ has written into their spirituality. Think about it this way: a letter can smudge, get lost, fade (like receipts), can be illegible (like prescriptions), understood by only a few. The Living God writes with permanence, which also makes His writing valuable. Every time the Holy Spirit moved, He left a mark of His influence that cannot be denied. The fact this church exists is evidence. Jesus does not simply build but outfits His Church with appliances, tools to be used in its operations. His Spirit brings gifts to be used in building up the body.
Fourth, true spirituality is written, “not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” (v.3) Christ does not commit what is on His mind to something without life. Does this cause you to remember the Ten Commandments, written on stone? Why did God choose to write permanently on the heart? Because only God can reach the heart. Only God can express His mind in this way. Only God can use what He writes. Only God can make permanent.
Fifth, who is reading this letter God has written? Who does true spirituality reach? 2 Cor 3:2 says it plainly: we are read by all men. All Achaia can plainly see what Christ has done by calling the Corinthian church out of the world to do Kingdom business. God’s work today is the same!
Finally, Paul has confidence that the spirituality provided by Christ is more precious than a human letter, more valuable than anything Moses could have brought down from the mountain.
How does the community “read” you? How is it evident to your home, your neighborhood, your community that you are what is on Christ’s mind, an epistle, a letter?
What two ways can you name where “all men” recognize Jesus’ handwriting in you through your spirituality?
Is the community receiving the message Christ intends to communicate through us? How well is our delivery system working? What is working well and what is not? What must be done to get it working? What are we supposed to be doing to get Christ’s message before the eyes of the world?