Letter to the Church

Len Haljmarsen a friend of mine was given an assignment from one of his Doctor of Ministry professors at ACTS to write a letter to the churches he was familar with in the style of the letters in Revelations. What follows is that letter. I believe that all who read this letter will find similarities in their fields of labor:

From the Ascended Lord, Jesus, the Son of God, the First-born of creation and the True Shepherd, to the emerging church in Canada.

I know your passion and courage, and I see your willingness to embrace the poor and broken of the world. I love your heart for purity, for renewal and reformation, and your willingness to wrestle with my Word. You are not those who are satisfied with yesterday’s food, or with someone else’s answers. And I see that your are intent on walking the walk, and not just talking talking the talk. Well done!

Your are intent on creating a truly welcoming community, and in being a city set on a hill. How I wish that my people had embraced this grace more fully! I love a community that is truly hospitable and where my people are known for their love. If you don’t demonstrate the truth of the gospel in the way you live, it’s better to cut out your tongue and stay silent.

But sometimes you give the impression that you are the only ones in history who got it right. Ridiculous. At other times you have little patience with those who don’t understand. Remember, there was a time when you couldn’t see past your own noses. In my eyes you are all poor and neeedy; I took you on a journey to open your eyes and ears and renew your minds. While you were yet sinners I died for you.

Sometimes you get caught up in ivory tower discussion. Perhaps that goes with the territory. You had to wade through the debris of centuries to understand the roots of the problems you face. But remember that you are in this for love. I am still a jealous God, and I am the bridegroom. While reimagining the church and working with the poor remember your first love. Abide in Me as I abide in you.

It has been difficult for some of you to hold the word and the Spirit together. The Kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power. I choose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. While you bring a needed theological foundation, remember that without Me you can do nothing. Don’t merely invent a new “church growth” technique. Embrace the mystery of the Incarnation, as well as the blessings of wisdom and revelation. Welcome My presence and all the gifts of My Spirit.

I have called some to lead. In your passion for rediscovering community, don’t neglect the gifts of leadership I give. Pay attention to the soil and seed. I am continuing to call trustworthy men and women to lead communities of faith. And while you learn more faithful ways of expressing these calls and of sharing leadership, you must continue to honor the gifts and callings I release.

Trust me as I lead you forward to new ways of structuring your shared life. You rightly responded to me by getting outside your four walls….. trust me now as I lead you forward into new kinds of communities. Don’t be afraid to put flesh on the bones…. you will need both new wine and new wineskins.

It is easy when founding new communities to lose connection with my work through history. But the witness of truth is always much larger than any one group can embrace. You can’t hope to escape the individualism of the recent past if you lack any sense of your place in history. Search out those who have gone before. Take the best and leave the rest. And don’t be afraind to embrace a sacremental perspective. This will help you move beyond dualism as well as beyond rationalism and individualism.

Finally, I expect yo to love your critics, and not to adopt their methods. Every one who is humble, I will exalt. I will give them a password no one else knows. Listen to my words!


One Response

  1. Rob-
    Thanks for passing this on! A fit warning for those of us who wish we saw more clearly how to swim against the current of this culture of individualism and toward the community of the King.

    I remember somebody saying, “History is just one damn thing after another.” The fact is, it’s more than that because there is a Creator that knows where history is going. I need to be reminded of that. Thanks.

    Shalom, y’all-

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