I have a young friend to whom I would like to say some things. However, this friend, whom I love and esteem very much, doesn’t want to hear anything on the subject at hand, that is, Christianity. So, I thought I’d write “John” a letter here on my blog for three reasons:
1) John doesn’t read my blog, so I could write what I want to say and not offend.
2) I need an outlet for all the pent-up words that I want to say to John.
3) Maybe someone else would be helped or encouraged by what I have to say. (If you see yourself in the descriptions I give of my friend John, then I would imagine that someone who loves you would like to say these words or similar ones to you.)
You are a fine man. You have worked hard and learned much to become an outstanding student and an academic success. You are kind and fun to be around and a good friend. Because you have been given great gifts of intelligence and ability, and because you have put those gifts to good use, you have earned my respect and honor. You have long had my friendship and my love.
You are on the threshold of a new chapter in your life, and you are moving into the next phase of your career with confidence and with humility. All of your friends and family are so very proud of you and of all you have accomplished and of all you plan and dream of for the future.
And yet . . . this one thing you lack: you have left your first love, and your life is built on a foundation of sand. You once professed to follow Jesus Christ as a young adult. Then, later, you said you didn’t believe “any of that Christian stuff” anymore. As far as I know (you don’t like to talk about spiritual things), you now have a vague belief in God, maybe even in Jesus, but you don’t go to church and you avoid any discussion of spiritual truth. You’re a good man, but as far as anyone can see from the outside, you’re not a follower of Jesus. Jesus Christ is not the source of your life and of your direction in life.
Because I love and admire you, this lack makes me very sad. What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? I daresay that you have the potential to go far in either business or academia or any other area of endeavor you choose. You are super smart, and you work hard. But what is it all for? I don’t understand what meaning a life apart from Christ can have. In fact, I don’t mean to make anyone depressed, but apart from Jesus and a life founded and anchored in his work of forgiveness and redemption, nothing really has much significance or meaning for me.
In addition to giving my life and my decisions and my relationships meaning, Jesus Christ is the only one who has the right and the authority to rule over me and over you. We can evade that authority, and I have tried, but either Jesus was and is Lord of all, “very God of God”, or He lied or was self-deluded (Lewis’s famous tri-lemma). And if He is God, if He died for our sins and was resurrected on the third day, if He reigns over heaven and earth, then our petty successes (or failures) don’t really mean too much in the light of His glory and the honor that is due Him. We owe Jesus our very lives and every minute of our time and every ounce of the talents and abilities He has given us. Conversely, the lordship of Jesus is the only thing that gives meaning to our actions and decisions here on this earth. If I am serving Jesus, then it’s all worthwhile. If not, then nothing is worth much.
So, because all of this “Christian stuff” is self-evident and obviously true in my eyes, I don’t understand why you won’t follow Him. Is it because Christians have disappointed you in the past? Are you really going to let someone else’s failure keep you from the One who redeems all of our faults and failures? Is it pride? Are you trapped in your past denial of faith in Him and too proud to admit that He is Lord? Do you still believe that your intelligence, your talent, and your ethical behavior are enough to please God and make a good life for yourself? If so, I believe that you eventually will come to the end of yourself and see that you are not enough, that you need God’s mercy, God’s grace, and the forgiveness to be found only in Christ just as much as the rest of us do.
I don’t mean to sound self-righteous or to give you the impression that I know everything while you are blind. In fact, I have been just as blind to the great mercy of Jesus as you seem to be now, and even today I ignore Him, take His grace for granted, and fail to be the follower that He calls me be. Daily, I must repent and return to my first love, Jesus. Please, someday when you see clearly your desperate need for a Savior and a Guide, come along with me and look to Jesus. And if you outrun me to the foot of the cross and if you prove to more faithful, more Spirit-filled, more loving and kind and Jesus-centered, than I have ever been enabled to become, that will be just fine. I’ll be happy to follow you and try to catch up as you follow Jesus.
I can’t wait for us to join together in running after Him.