In my desk at work, I have file marked, “Memories.” In it are three separate folders, all containing personal letters. The first set is letters that my mom saved that were from me while I was in Army boot camp back in 1986. The second set is marked “UMass letters” and are letters that I received from friends while I was on student exchange to the University of Massachusetts Amherst during the 1988-89 school year. And the last is hodgepodge of letters I received in the early ‘90’s and later during my stint of active duty in Iraq in 2005.
As I look back through them, I’m struck by the types of affections that expressed. Desperation and pride scream through my letters from Fort Benning. Friendship marked with a strong sense of sarcastic humor during my school years. And my letters sent home from Iraq are laced through with love and longing. In other words, a great deal more is communicated in these letters than merely the words on the page. As I look these over, I feel a measure of regret for the lost practice of personal letter due to the advent of internet-based communication. (I do feel a sense of strong irony as I write that in this Blog!)
In the Bible, some of our most treasured books are personal letters. The Bible contains 13 such books written by the Apostle Paul. It was not a lost art for him! Within the words of these letters, much Christian truth is communicated. They are a treasury of precious doctrine about Christ, Salvation, the Kingdom of God, and much more. But beneath and behind the words there is also invaluable instruction. That’s because in these letters, the heart of the Apostle comes shining through. He writes to the Thessalonians:
Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. (1 Thessalonians 2:8)
Behind these words, the Apostle offers great insight into the personal nature of the Christian faith. For him, it was not limited to a compassionate and compelling communication of Biblical truth – important as it. It was a sharing of his very self.
In the weeks following Easter, at PCC we will be delving deep into the Apostle’s first letter to the Thessalonian believers with an aim to extract all we can about what it means to follow Jesus, loving God and our neighbors. I’ve entitled my sermon series, “Life on Life with the Apostle Paul.” I invite you to join us during the weeks following Easter. Come in person! It will be much better than any email or instagram, text or twitter.
Seeking Jesus, Serving Others