I must becoming ancient. I still remember letters. I remember receiving them, reading them, and writing them. When I first came to Japan 20 years ago, email was around, I used it in university, but it was hardly common. So whenever I wrote home, I used air letters, which were cheaper than regular ones.
To this day, I still have a number of old letters from friends, but I can’t remember the last time I received an actual letter.
But anyway, Paul calls us letters from Christ. When talking to the Corinthians, he said, “I don’t need letters of recommendation to you or from you to prove my ministry is valid. Rather,
You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (2-3)
What does Paul mean that we are letters from Christ that are known and read by everyone. He means that when people see us, our very lives are Jesus’ message that he is alive and working in this world today.
For when people see us, they see the change that he is working in us.
Back in the time of Moses, one way God revealed who he was to the Jews was through his laws. Through the ten commandments, he showed what his character was like and what he created us to be like. But all these things were exterior to the Jews themselves. That is, through the law they could now see what God was like and how he had created us to be, but those tablets of stone could do nothing more for them. They couldn’t actually give the Jews, or anyone else for that matter, the power to change.
But when we come to Christ, God writes his laws into our very hearts. No longer are the laws merely exterior to us showing us how we should live. Rather, the laws are written within us and God’s Holy Spirit is changing us from the inside out. As we live each day, he is whispering to our hearts, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)
And as we follow him, we start to reflect the Lord’s glory in our lives and are transformed into his likeness with “ever increasing glory.” (18)
I like how the ESV puts it. We are transformed from “one degree of glory to another.”
In other words, with each little step we take in which we become more like Christ, we step into another degree of glory. And as that glory shines through us, people start to understand, “Jesus is real. He lives. Because I see it in <your name>. Each day, I see more of what Christ is through him/her.”
And in us they see that letter of invitation from Jesus that says, “Come to me. You can find life just as <your name> has.”
So each day, let us be that letter to those around us. Let God write his words upon our hearts that others may see his glory and come to know him too.