I keep going back to the end of Chapter 5 in 2nd Corinthians and the beginning of Chapter 6.3-10. The love of Christ overwhelms us, Paul says. If we had a sensibility of this love today we would be overwhelmed as well. It is this overwhelming love that Paul encountered on the Damascus road. It is a love that Paul will later say in Ephesians is the love of Christ which is beyond all knowing, that comes to us as the freely extended invitation of God. Grace. Aka God’s love. A redeeming love, which means it is a changing love, a love that changes us and has already changed the world.
Here is what is remarkable that this all encapsulating love is given to us so that we might become the goodness of God. Paul has been writing to his converts admonishing and cajoling them into acting according to the Christ they have received. Unlike the Pharisees, both ancient and contemporary, its finally refreshing to read Paul himself, rather than through an interpreter, with fresh eyes, and come to the realization, if not the experience, that it is God who initiates this relationship. What would it mean if we saw ourselves not as sinners but as the goodness of God. I don’t find Paul using that negative connotation to embroil and entangle us in, but rather imparts a sense of self that God made as good and continues to sustain in his own goodness.
What does it mean to be the goodness of God? How differently would we carry ourselves? What burden would lift? How more open to the message of Paul and the gospel love of Jesus would we be? How much more attentive to the way we act and interact with the world, with ourselves? As Pau says, this is the freedom of the holy spirit. We have no ideas what can be accomplished in it. Paul is trying mightily with word upon word to give us some sense what this means.
For us it means a transformation is taking place. God has accomplished this new way of being in and through Christ. We die with Christ in order that we may rise with him. We ‘die’ to the old way of living, which is subsumed in the death of Jesus, and we in fact through faith in Jesus Christ are renewed, we achieve the sacred reality that is activated if you will, becomes known, lived, realized, as we live in and into the promise which has been fulfilled not only in a place but now in a person. It is the promise of our becoming; becoming the unique sacred identity that was first given as a promise to Abraham and now becomes in Christ is reiterated to us
Not only are we renewed, but the way we view the world and even the events of our lives are seen in a new light. Through the prism of this saving love. Salvation, our saving understood as not being saved from something but saved for God, saved in order to serve and to worship and live our lives according to the Christ we have received in the goodness that is God’s. The things that seem to deprive us or are objectionable to others, are in fact, with God’s grace, the very things that we now, like Paul, are not just changed but become the tenor of grace.
It is a gathering grace. The God-life that now reconciles us to God. We are God’s as from the genesis of our humanity. Created sacred and meant. This reconciling power is God in Christ as Paul says that gathers all things to himself. It is the giant embrace of the Creator for his world, for his people, for us. Bolstered by the spirit of holiness, a love that is free of affectation, sentimentality, by the word of truth and the power of God Paul marches confidently in his work as the Ambassador for Christ and is able to make known that his work serves God’s cause in the world. He says more specifically that we are all Ambassadors for Christ. Meant as the loving response to God’s love to incarnate this love in the world.