To the Church: You Will Prevail – Eighth Letter Project

September 13, 2010

8th-letter-banner

I submitted the following letter to The Eight Letter Project. It’s a letter to the North American Church:

Dear Church in North America,

I write to you at a time of severe duress, when many are beating you up. You’re the object of endless handwringing inside your walls. Much is being written and said about the damage you have caused to the world. Those who hate you work tirelessly for your demise. Those who love you speak with apocalyptic fear that you’ll no longer exist in generations to come.

Truthfully, much of the criticism is deserved. You have chased after political power, prostituting truth in exchange for a seat at the emperor’s table. You have bathed your theology in the American Dream. You’re televangelists promise a gospel of little hardship, much prosperity, and little commitment.

But I’m not writing to you as another critic. You have plenty of those. While I’m keenly aware of your glaring faults, I’m also aware of the Savior’s deep and unrelenting love for you as His bride. You were purchased with great price at Calvary. You’re lover still bears the marks on the palms of His hands. Those are marks of love.

My advice? Ignore the voices within that complain long and loudly of cultural irrelevance. You’ll never be in step with the world system, because that is a system temporarily ruled by the Adversary. The Savior displayed the perfect pitch of cultural context and otherworldly theology. And they killed Him.

They won’t every like you, dear Church. When they do, fear. Because when they like you, you are far from the heart of your Savior.

Stay true to your simple mission. Don’t let political correctness push you from the scandalous nature of the cross. Don’t be seduced by favor. Don’t exchange the easy message of moralism for the radical message of grace.

You have a tendency to morph into another system, another code, another lifestyle. But Jesus didn’t come to establish a lifestyle or code or system. The other lesser gods offer that already. No, Jesus came to offer a relationship, a unique indwelling of His Spirit in ordinary disciples, bound not by common traits but linked by a common faith.

Don’t be religion. Be relational. Be reality. Be redemption.

I also want to encourage you, because as the Church, you are His Chosen. You will be forever protected. Jesus promised that even the gates of Hell couldn’t prevail against you. You might have seasons of weakness, but you’re flame will never be extinguished.

Cling to orthodoxy. Defend the Holy Scriptures. Encourage your people to live the gospel. Don’t simply be a reservoir of biblical knowledge. Be a lighthouse in each community, a way station on every roadside, a beacon of hope in ever crowded city and village around the world.

Above all, be light. Those in darkness don’t need more of what they already have. They need you to make a difference—by being different.

Lastly, lead every generation down the old paths. Let the magnificent glory of the gospel burn freshly in every new heart. Don’t abandon orthodoxy; proclaim it stronger with each passing year.

Because you, God’s Church, are the jewel of Heaven, the Bride of Christ, the object of His love. He rescued you from Hell and you await your triumphant passage to the Wedding Feast of Heaven.