In the spirit of the new book Letters to a Future Church: Words of Encouragement and Prophetic Appeals, InterVarsity Press and the Patheos Book Club hosted a contest inviting readers to submit their own prophetic letters to the Church. IVP chose three winners to receive a gift package of books and the opportunity to have their letter published here at Patheos. We’ll print one winning letter over the next three days. May these letters, and all of those from the book, inspire you to find your own voice for the sake of the future of the Church.
A Letter to the Church, from Eric Bierker
“We must always return to the God-Man, Jesus Christ, for what it means to be a Christian. He left us His life, He gives us His life. We are preoccupied by programs, formulas, and to-do lists, rather than the Person of Jesus. We aim at the wrong target, pursue the wrong goals, like false gods. Relevancy and righteousness evade us because we are trying to usher in the Kingdom of God by our own power, always forgetting that we were and are powerless. In the fullness of time, Christ came to die for our false dreams and faded hopes. We must always begin with our utter need, for in doing so, we cultivate a spirit of viewing the needs of others as our own.
I am increasingly concerned that the Church has become just one more special interest group shouting in the public square like babies in a nursery. Feed me, rather than feed. Hold me, rather than holding another. Comfort me, rather than bringing comfort. We protest we have been wronged, somehow forgetting that being wronged, allows us to show forth Christ as the sun does on a cold winter day. We want warm breezes, air conditioned churches, and plenty of parking. Being inconvenienced is seen as an impediment to us living peaceful lives, rather than having peace in the pain. As if the cross was not an inconvenience. Our gaze is inward, we seek to feather our own nest rather than seek to rescue those out in the harsh fields of life who have broken wings.
Come to Church, we say. But, do we go to them, feed, clothe, and heal, in Jesus name? Do we expect our bumper stickers, CCM, our books, to bring them home, or do we pile up all of our holy stuff to keep them out? If we could love others as Jesus loves us, would we be so consumed by consumption? Would not Grace allow us to break free of the chains of our own self-limited vision? We matter, but no more than the next person. This life is short, a vapor, as James writes. Why not keep in mind that as this world is passing away,it is not worth holding onto. Let go, free our finger of faith from the clutching desperation of ego and keep an open hand of gifts given to God’s image bearers in need of restoration.
May it be so…”
For more on Letters to a Future Church, visit the Patheos Book Club.