Death and Glory on the Mountaintop

If I’m perfectly honest, I want glory. I want my gifts to be reflected far and wide. I want my accomplishments to be honored by many people. I want to be known and praised for doing great things.

These desires have a natural and appropriate root. Human beings are social creatures. Part of what that means is that we want to be acknowledged by others, and being honored for good things we’ve done is an important part of that acknowledgement. If I wash the dishes, it is good and right for my family to thank and perhaps even praise me. If my friend accomplishes something extraordinary, it is good and right to celebrate the accomplishment and shine a light on it for others to see.

The trouble is, despite this honest root, my desire for glory tends to bloom in distorted ways. Continue reading

The Ministry of Death

I listen regularly to the Pray as You Go podcast. Last week, one of the passages featured was the passage below from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church:

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!

2 Corinthians 3:4-9 (NRSV)

In this passage Paul contrasts two covenants—first, the giving of the law through Moses; and second, what he calls “a new covenant…of spirit,” which “gives life.” Paul goes on to refer to the first covenant as “the ministry of death,” and “the ministry of condemnation.”

His meaning here seems to be Continue reading