December 10, 2014
The New Testament Letters
Epistle to the church of Shreds-a-lot-ians
One of SFC’s Values is “Believing: our faith is grounded in biblical truth. We, as the Body of Christ, pursue a lifestyle of prayer and worship.” (emphasis added)
I’ve been reading through the letters of the New Testament recently, so while I was praying one day for my shred homies (during the 540 Window), a few specific thoughts came to my mind.
I wondered, “if Paul would have written a letter to the church within the shred culture, what might he have said?” Then I wondered if I should write one myself.
First, I’d applaud them for their ability to act-on-a-dime to love and serve and befriend some of the needy and hurting individuals in the shred culture. As shred kids, they are laid-back and respectful of others. I love that some of my friends spend all of their non-work time volunteering in their shred communities. They love others well, and it’s an inspiring example.
Then, my mind went to a few certain spiritual pitfalls that I might warn them about like the constant idolizing of “a good time” or prioritizing their own selfish pleasures over other people’s needs. Or I might challenge them in the fact that the word “commitment” is practically a curse word in our transient me-focused culture.
While laughing off the idea of my letter, I happened across a similarly-intended letter from Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. to the “Church of America” and it really resonated with me that Followers of Jesus DO still hear from Him and can (and maybe SHOULD) encourage and challenge each other in letters like this. Listen to King’s entire 1956 sermon HERE:
King included things like:
“I understand that you have an economic system in America known as Capitalism. Through this economic system you have been able to do wonders…”
“I have heard of your great medical advances, which have resulted in the curing of many dread plagues and diseases, and thereby prolonged your lives and made for greater security and physical well-being…”
“But America… I wonder whether your moral and spiritual progress has been commensurate with your scientific progress…You have allowed the material means by which you live to outdistance the spiritual ends for which you live. You have allowed your mentality to outrun your morality…”
“I am impelled to write you concerning the responsibilities laid upon you to live as Christians in the midst of an unChristian world… But I understand that there are many Christians in America…afraid to be different. Their great concern is to be accepted socially. They live by some such principle as this: ‘everybody is doing it, so it must be alright.’ For so many of you Morality is merely group consensus…but American Christians… ‘Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.’”
“May I say just a word to those of you who are struggling against this evil (in reference to segregation). Always be sure that you struggle with Christian methods and Christian weapons. Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter. As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love…”
King saw sins in the American church that are still running rampant NOW, 58 years later. Although, I can’t be too surprised, because the letters of the New Testament are almost 2000 years old and still incredibly applicable to us today. May King’s letter (and the letters of the New Testament) serve as a relevant encouragement and warning to us even as they did to the long history Christendom.
What would YOUR LETTER say
If YOU were challenged by God to write a letter to the church within the shred culture, what current behavior would you commend them on? What behaviors might you challenge them to avoid/quit doing? What would be your closing encouragement/challenge?