Lenten Season Lectio Divina Series: Paul

This is the sixth and final entry in our Lenten series of posts taken from Stephen Binz’s Ancient-Future Bible Study: Experience Scripture through Lectio Divina See our previous entries:

Week One: Abraham: “Ancestor of All”

Week Two:  David: “The Shepherd Who Is Also King”

Week Three:  Sarah: “Listen to Sarah, the Quarry of Encouragement”

Week Four: Peter: “From Crumbled Failure to Rock of Strength”

Week Five: Pilate’s Wife: “A Forgotten Advocate for Jesus”

Be sure to check out our videos that further explain this terrific series.

This week, we are posting a study from the introduction to Binz’s volume Paul: Apostle to All the Nations.

Crossing Boundaries and Removing Barriers

Lectio

Read this verse, which summarizes the heart of Paul’s teaching, as if he were addressing you directly. Expect these words to impact your mind and heart in a way that can transform your life.

2 Corinthians 5:17
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

Continue listening to God’s Word as you also listen for the ways this Scripture passage has transformed God’s church.

The heart of Paul’s teaching is the experience of union with Christ. We live in Christ; Christ lives in us. We are united with Christ through faith in his saving cross and resurrection. Crucified with Christ, the old self dies, and in his resurrection, we live a new life.

This new life involves a new way of seeing, a new way of being, a new way of living—indeed a new identity. To be “in Christ” means to live as a “new creation.” As a new creation “in Christ,” we are incorporated into the saving community, the body of Christ. This is a community in which boundaries that divided people are broken down, in which distinctions among people no longer matter.

In Paul’s day, the world was divided between Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free people, women and men. But Paul envisioned a Christian community that not only included all of these but also brought them into interdependent relationships. Part of the dramatic witness the church offered to first-century society was this attractive, alternative community of dissimilar people called into a higher unity in Christ.

Paul was a boundary breaker, always seeking to remove the barriers that divided people from one another and from God. And Paul teaches us that the church must be a boundary breaker too. Today our culture continues to be divided along lines of ethnicity, race, class, and gender. Yet, when we listen to Paul, we discover possibilities that can transcend our differences and join us into a common unity. Life in Christ is liberated life. A believer is no longer imprisoned by the prejudices, resentments, and jealousy that so often dominate human life. As Paul speaks to us, he speaks a message of “grace and peace.” When we extend grace to and make peace with one another, we become boundary breakers, and, in so doing, we offer a powerful witness of Christ to our world.

Meditatio

Consider how this Scripture passage is challenging you as a member of Christ’s body today.

  • How can the church respect differences and diversity among people while seeking a higher unity?
  • How can I become a boundary breaker and thus witness to Christ today?

Oratio

After listening with the church to God’s Word, respond in prayer to God with the new understanding you have gained.

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, you have promised to extend the blessings of your salvation to all the people of the earth. As you called Paul to proclaim your gospel to the world, you have called your church to make disciples of all the nations. Enlighten and encourage me as I read and contemplate your inspired Word in the life and letters of Paul.

Continue praying from your heart . . .

Contemplatio

Spend some moments in quiet, placing your life in the life of Christ. Trust that God is creating you anew as he works deep within you.

 

©2011 by Stephen J. Binz. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without expressed written permission is strictly prohibited.