Epiphany 2, Thursday, Year B

Inspired by 2 Corinthians 10:1-11

“I ask that when I am present I need not show boldness by daring to oppose those who think we are acting according to human standards. Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards.” 2 Corinthians 10:2-3 (NRSV)

One of the most perplexing aspects of living the Christian life is the concept of being ‘in the world, but not of the world.’ In some ways, the church is nothing more than a gathering of sinners, prone to all the shortcomings and failings of any other organization. Yet at the same time, we’re called to be more. How can we do both?

It’s true that we are sinful human beings and can never be otherwise. However we have also been saved by the grace of God in Christ Jesus, and are therefore made perfect in him. This doesn’t mean that we’re no longer sinners; it means that we’re no longer merely sinners. We have also been made saints by the power of God. As such we can no longer allow the world to set the terms for how we live our lives; our lives are the Lord’s, and the terms of how we live them are his to set. And he sets them by meeting hate with love, rejection with acceptance, fear with steadfastness, and transgression with forgiveness. While much of the world defaults to ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’ God in Christ did not treat us that way, and as those who name ourselves Christians, we are called to treat each other as Christ treated us. We are still sinful human beings, complete with failings and shortcomings, but we know what it is to be loved and forgiven, and are therefore able to show love and forgiveness to others. This indeed is boldness.

Let us pray. Forgiving God, you treated our scorn with kindness. Enable us to show your love to those who live by hate, that your grace and forgiveness may be known throughout the world. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.