"We Regard No One According to the Flesh"
A little more from my non-break. Here is the monthly Bible meditation from Taizé for October. This text has been written by a brother from Brazil; it is on 2 Corinthians 5:14-21:
For the love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died. He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Here, then, is the meditation. Try to spend a little time with the questions at the end:
At the beginning of the Church, Christians of Jewish background leapt over the wall that separated them from those from other backgrounds. This meant for them giving up some strict dietary and behavioral rules; it broadened the way they conceived their relationship with God. During the following two millennia, in their practice and teaching, Christians did not always show such boldness in integrating cultural differences.
In Brazil, a powerful trend over the past fifty years has caused the Pentecostal churches to grow to the detriment of the traditional denominations. Most of the converts come from a poor background. After their conversion, they willingly witness to their faith by saying, “I used to be this and that, now I am a new man (or woman) because I have accepted Christ.” And they tell you about the features of this “new self” (v.17) that can be seen and verified by all: “I no longer drink. I no longer smoke. I respect my spouse. My children go to school. I am learning to read and write. I go to church all the time…”
In these communities, strong bonds of fellowship unite the members. They help one another, materially as well as morally, to stay on the right road. And yet their attitude towards other churches tends to be one of suspicion, or even of hostility and contempt, as if the work of reconciliation stopped at the door of their own community.
In society and between different countries, as well as among Christians, the natural tendency is to take sides, to accept some and to exclude others. It is difficult not to have any prejudices, “no longer to look at anyone in a human way” (v.16). For that involves becoming aware of one’s own limits, realizing that some aspects of my own personality can be difficult for others to accept.
What prejudices remain in me, in spite of everything?
Who it is hard for me to be reconciled with? What makes it difficult?
What experiences of reconciliation have I had?