November 16: what matters

I am often asked to write letters of recommendation. It may be for someone seeking acceptance to a college. Sometimes it is a potential employer. I have even written letters on behalf of a person being considered for an award. Before I can write a letter of recommendation, I think about the individual, what I know about the person and how I’ve interacted with that person. I write about the person’s character and how he or she has shown integrity (a consistency between words and actions). I try to give a specific example of how I have witnessed or experienced the person’s character. Sometimes I can comment on a person’s skills, but mostly I write about character which is why I think a pastor is asked to write the recommendation in the first place.

Even without a letter, Paul says we are already providing a recommendation. We show others what it means to be Christian. Every day we give the world a glimpse of what it means to be Christian. I think Paul is asking the Corinthians and us if we are who we say we are – if we represent Christ in such a way as to serve as a letter of recommendation for Christ.

As I read from 2 Corinthians, these words and phrases caught my attention; “So we make it our goal to please him” (2 Corinthians 5:9); “We are Christ’s ambassadors” (5:20); “God’s co-workers” (6:1); “Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (7:1)

This morning, I stopped for a cup of coffee. As the woman at the counter gave me the cup of coffee, she said “Have a nice day.” Four simple words. They are not new words, but I don’t hear them every day. She made eye contact with me and said these words in a way that I felt she meant it. I paused and said, “Thank you.” And I meant what I said. In that moment, she became a letter of recommendation – for the business that provides coffee. I would like the coffee regardless of her words, but this morning her words mean more to me than the coffee.

How am I being a letter of recommendation today? In what way, have you been a letter of recommendation, Christ’s ambassador, God’s co-worker? We may need to purify ourselves from whatever contaminates us so that Christ is seen and heard in us this day.

Today’s readings: 2 Corinthians 3-6

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