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 three-year lectionary.
Our Epistle reading for this week focuses on how we would consider God and how we would consider one another. At the beginning of the passage, Paul says that at one point we would think of Christ “according to the flesh.” But in light of the resurrection of Christ, that thinking has passed away. The crux of the issue is that God has made reconciliation and given his people “the word of reconciliation” (v. 19, ESV). This sheds light on what Paul might mean when he speaks of consideration “according to the flesh” (v. 16, ESV).
When we think and act in accordance with the flesh, we are the doers and shakers. We are the ones responsible for everything. We find peace with God, we trust, we obey, we work out God’s kingdom. We find that Christ’s work on our behalf is only valid if we contribute to it. We see a risen Christ who needs us to keep his law or he is stripped of his power and authority. This is how life according to the flesh is.
The good news is that verse seventeen does away with the idea altogether. We don’t need to make the rules. We don’t get to make the rules. We are best advised to keep our hands in our pockets and stay away from any temptation to enter into the fray. Why is this? Because God has done the work of reconciling the world, including us, to himself. It is done. Our efforts to add to his work are not only pointless but even harmful. He has accomplished his will.
What is our proper resonse? To make that work of God known to others, calling them to receive God’s reconciling work. After all, in verse 21, Jesus is said to have become sin for us, making us God’s righteousness. The work is done. We may as well receive it with thanksgiving.
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