Today’s Bible reading
Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Now if the ministry of death, chiseled in letters on stone tablets, came in glory so that the people of Israel could not gaze at Moses’ face because of the glory of his face, a glory now set aside, how much more will the ministry of the Spirit come in glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory! Indeed, what once had glory has lost its glory because of the greater glory; for if what was set aside came through glory, much more has the permanent come in glory! – 2 Corinthians 3:4-11
More thoughts for meditation
In his last section “The Irreligious Implication,” Bruxy Cavey gives a number of inventive and corrective teachings to help us do the word.
The words of Paul, in today’s readings, might be the harshest he delivers to Jesus followers. He really does not want them to try to preserve the Ten Commandments as the key ethical guide for the Church. Cavey teaches the law is just not good enough to be central; it is preliminary, a tutor, at best. Love is the core.
Love is not doing what makes us feel good, but doing what is good despite how we feel. Love is the backbone that helps us walk uprightly in this world. Law, on the other hand, is more like an exoskeleton that holds us together from the outside in. Love, in the end, is life itself. Life did not precede love, as if love were a late-dating accessory bolted onto life. Instead, Love preceded life and is the cause of life. Hence, the apostle John writes, “The person who does not love remains in death” (1 John 3:14 CEB).
Using today’s reading, Cavey summarizes one of his chapters in the last section of the book: “The Irreligious Implication,” like this:
Paul calls the Ten Commandments (the only commandments “engraved in letters on stone,” written by the very finger of God) the ministry that brought death. The way of law is over and done, because Jesus has established the New Covenant and ushered in the age of the Spirit. If we try to go back to the letter of the law, we’re ignoring the new, life-giving thing God is doing by his Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Jesus gave us a “better” way to live (Hebrews 7:18-19, 22; 8:6). Living a law-abiding life aims too low. Yes, for a season in our human development, law was the manifestation of love for our needs at that time. But Jesus has now given us one new “platinum rule”—love others the way Jesus has loved us—and his own Spirit to help make this happen. This isn’t religion. This is a revolution.
Suggestions for action
Pray: Where I have a heart of stone, soften me to your Spirit.
How did you like Cavey’s definition of love? : “Love is not doing what makes us feel good, but doing what is good despite how we feel.” I might say, “Love makes doing good feel good.” (Cavey is a bit more cerebral than I am). But we all probably need to have a definition. What does it mean to love in Christ? Is it all about connection for you? Feeling loved? Is it all about justice for you? Loving people hard? When you ask Jesus and listen, do you get any direction for how to proceed today, in love?
Cavey’s assertions seem obvious, at least when one reads the Bible, until you hear about Christians fighting to the death to keep a plaque of the Ten Commandments on the wall of the courthouse. More people in the U.S. probably believe in the “rule of law” than they believe in today’s readings. What is your knee-jerk reaction – follow the rules or follow the Ruler? obeying discernible commands or living in an eternity of love? It is the age-old question with a lot of interesting answers? What is yours? Journal about it.