December 3
Katharine Roller

Yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law
but through the faith of Jesus Christ. 

And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus,
so that we might be justified by the faith of Christ 
and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. 

But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!  Galatians 2:16-17

The first verse of this passage is very familiar to me. The second, less so. Together, they make me think about being a Christian in the world: specifically, the knowledge that my actions reflect on Jesus Christ, and on my siblings in Christ.

It is a daunting thought! And arrogant, perhaps. How could the actions of one person reflect on the entire body of Christian people, much less on the Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth? And yet, you may meet people who have never interacted with a person who self-identifies as a Christian—or, more likely (and more sadly) have never had a positive interaction with people who call themselves Christian. If the people you meet each day, friends and loved ones and total strangers, knew nothing about Jesus Christ except that someone like you believed in and followed Him, would that change how you treated them? How so?

This is a tricky road to walk. Too easily, we can get caught up in putting on a Christian appearance, hiding our sins instead of facing them. Such attempts to paper over sins can beget even graver ones.

And they are unnecessary. Galatians 2:17 says it: the fact that we are sinners does not make Christ a minister of sin. To the contrary, by acknowledging our sins with humility, facing them with courage, and working to heal the damage of sin writ large in the world, we show the true power of God’s gifts. Such works do not save us. But through them, we can reflect some small fraction of the light that God shines upon us. In this Advent season and always, let us shine.

Lord, help me live in such a way that those You place in my path will see Your light through me. Amen.

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