Dear (fill in the blank),

Dear N.,

We haven’t written letters to one another before, and it seems that letters are becoming more rare everywhere, but they still have their uses. You might say I could have just texted you this message, or sent a message on Facebook. But it’s hard to express things of a deep and personal nature that way, especially because a short message runs a great risk of misunderstanding. You might say I could have called or visited so we could make this a conversation, but the things I have to say all hang together, and they will take a while for me to say them well. It takes a lot of patience and goodwill to have a back-and-forth conversation about deep, personal things like this. We all tend to interrupt instead.

So I’m writing you this letter. I may never send it. Maybe I’ll just gather my thoughts here and God will give me an opportunity to express them to you some other way. You see, they must be expressed. There are some things too important to be kept silent or ignored. One of them is the matter of your life.

You have been blessed with a pretty good life. You can count many blessings, if you stop to consider them. Yes, there are many challenges too, and I can see how they could get you down. But overall, your life is a blessing, just like mine. I’m glad to be alive, and I’m glad to know you, too. Because I care about you, I want you to think about not only your life on earth, but your future life that will come afterward. I’d like to share that blessing with you, too.

We used to see each other not only at the supermarket or at special occasions. I enjoyed visiting with you at church. That’s not the main reason I was there, but it was one very good part of it. Why haven’t you been coming to church lately? In fact, I think it’s been months since you were attending every week. I suppose one obligation or another got in the way, and maybe you were sick. But church used to be a priority for you. So what happened?

Have you forgotten the reason for going to church? It’s not just some old tradition. You didn’t go because of some threatening commandment from God. Oh, I know there is one: the Third Commandment: “You shall keep the day of rest holy,” as it’s written in catechisms these days. But you know it’s not just about a certain day. It’s about our connection to God, the link He has made from us to Jesus. It’s the only way for us to reach heaven! Besides heaven, it’s the only way for us to have a truly fulfilling and content life on earth. God didn’t give us that commandment just to make you hurt with feelings of guilt and shame. He gave us that commandment out of love, so that we might not neglect His most precious gifts and lose out on what they bring.

Now, maybe you think God should give you heaven and all the best blessings some other way. “If He loves me so much, why doesn’t He give me my Sundays off to enjoy instead of making me uncomfortable? Can’t He do that and give me eternal life at the same time?”

Dear N., He can do anything, but He gets to choose how He does it! Remember who He is, here: God. And remember that you are not God. The way He gives you eternal life is through that connection: His Word and the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Those things are non-negotiable, because they are the God-given connection to the one-and-only Savior for human beings. That’s Jesus, of course.

If Jesus was crucified and stayed dead, then don’t come to church. In that case, I shouldn’t go either. But did you know that the best historical evidence all supports the fact that Jesus rose to life again? If you believe in Julius Caesar, then you have every reason to believe even more strongly that Jesus Christ rose to life on the third day. And if you believe that, then you also should believe what He said it means. Do you remember John 3:16? It’s Jesus’ promise to you: forgiveness and eternal life.

You may have some hangups about all of this, and I’d like you to tell me about them. Don’t worry, I won’t blow you off or make fun of you. I’ll listen, because this is serious. I want you to share eternal life with me.

One thought on “Dear (fill in the blank),

  1. Thank you for a great letter written for pondering!
    I have an ongoing dialogue with friends upset with the people in their church. . .struggle to attend. The conversation ends with their examples of people who they think live ‘righteously’. Redefining faith is what happens in the absence of corporate worship.
    “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
    There is full communication with God in the Old and New Testaments for certainty. Certainty is what all men crave. And certainty is affirmed in a faith that receives in the means of grace Christ designed for His Church.
    What is different about this era is the fact that everyone can now be involved in challenging not just what the Bible says, but the way we have traditionally understood what it says. Does the hearing of the Word deliver what it promises?
    The whole idea of surety and certainty is not a modernist point of view, but an ancient Christian point of view. Men, in every generation have attempted to redefine faith. Faith is often defined by what men are doing. Church hopping to find the right people, right preacher, is the challenge. People don’t love us the way ‘we want’ to be loved.
    In worship we continually receive a faith to trust what Christ is saying is true, is certain, is unmovable and unchanging. Christ, in His words never fails to love us perfectly! How amazing.
    How thankful I am for this promise of Christ to His church! In worship, where the Word is purely preached, we have certainty and receive endurance to our last breath. Faith is about what Christ has done and what we receive.
    I am thankful for a church body that hears that Gospel message every week. Sunday is the designated time and place to hear from God. Attendance is for our benefit in seen and unseen ways.
    I am writing my letter. Taking time out of your day to write a note says you care.

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