Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Self-sufficiency. It’s a tried and true American value. Unlike in many parts of the world, Americans honor the “pioneer” and the “self-made man.” Even within Christianity we have a love for personal initiative. Why else would decision theology and the idea of the sacraments being our confession of who we are catch on to such a large extent in this country?
2 Corinthians 3:4-11, particularly 4-6, contradict this idea. Our sufficiency is not of ourselves. It is in Christ. We are not capable in any way to bring people eternal life. We are not able to create any kind of religious structure or doctrine by which God would be pleased. The covenants and structures that we can invent ultimately only brings condemnation. They may urge a holy life. They may do many good works in the community and around the world. But the end of them all is to depend on ourselves rather than on God, for justification.
The apostle Paul says without hesitation that our only hope is not in ourselves, but in Christ, who has given his life for us. This is to the glory of God. This is how we find reconciliation with God. He alone is our hope and our salvation.
How do we live in light of this? We don’t give up the pioneer spirit. There’s no need to put away the attitudes that honor hard work, initiative, and carving out a way of life in the wilderness. Those are positive attitudes. They do a tremendous amount of good in our world, especially through innovation and creation of structures that will bring security to others. However, while we continue in that rugged way of life, we confess that our true hope is through God alone. We know that what we are doing is done with God’s help. With God’s help we raise our families. With God’s help we create a better comunity. With God’s help we may even be blessed to find cures for diseases and inventions that save our environment from much of the wear and tear caused by living here. But it is all with God’s help.
We also realize that nothing we can do will reconcile us with God. That all comes from him. It isn’t the strength of our will that keeps us in Christ. It isn’t the quality of our repentance that determines God’s forgiveness. We aren’t the ones active in baptism or communion, we merely receive what God has given us. It’s God at work.
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