“Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you.This ‘letter’ is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.” — 2 Corinthians 3:3
Presidents of the United States, after their terms of office, often establish a presidential library where their correspondence is archived for posterity. For similar reasons, the letters of literary figures are often published posthumously, and the devotees of notable people will pay large amounts of money just to own one of their letters.
It would be a waste of time speculating on the possible market value of one of Jesus’ letters, because there are none in existence. That is, there are none written with ink on parchment.
However, Paul said of the Corinthian Christians, “Clearly, you are a letter from Christ…” This is an extraordinary statement! The reason Paul wrote it was that Paul’s authenticity was being challenged in the Corinthian church. Some people, not believing that he was really an apostle, were demanding that he show his credentials.
His response was that the changed lives of the Corinthians were his credentials. They themselves were evidence of God’s work through Paul in Corinthian hearts. He didn’t need letters of commendation when the whole congregation was made up of living letters written by Christ himself!
To press home his point, Paul reminded his readers of what happened when God had carved a letter “of written laws…etched in stone” (3:6-7). Paul was referring, of course, to the law given to Moses. This law had served to condemn the people, because they had constantly broken it. But now God has established a “new covenant” through Christ. Instead of bringing condemnation and death, the new covenant “makes us right with God” (3:9). It is the people who have been made right with God–who are Christ’s letters–that can be read by other people.
But what do other people read in these human letters? First, Paul notes, “Since this new covenant gives us such confidence, we can be very bold” (3:12). Others see a confidence that is not arrogant self-confidence but joyful confidence in the promise of God, that God will accept all who come to him through his Son.
Others also read about the freedom enjoyed by God’s people–“wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, he gives freedom” (3:17). This is not the freedom to do what people want, but the freedom to do what they ought. Most importantly, when others read these letters from Christ, they learn about Christ and gain a vision of Him–“as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him and reflect his glory even more” (3:18).
These letters are not for archives, where they will gather dust. They are for public reading, where they will transform their readers. We who believe are letters from Christ that are signed, sealed, and delivered with love.