My dear son,
I realize you will be serving Christ in a world far different than the one where I was trained and first released into ministry. Your methods, your dress, your vocabulary, the technologies you use and even the problems you face may have little in common with the world I knew, or even the world in which we both minister today. You will be a faithful servant of Christ not because you mimic my words or imitate my ministry style, but because you live out the timeless values we share – values that come to us from the Word of God and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
So while I still have the opportunity, I want to take a few minutes to summarize in writing the values and life lessons I have attempted to live out before you and most want to pass on to you…
First, remember that Jesus Christ is our only hope for reconciliation with God. Many counterfeits will seek to distract you from that truth, as Satan seeks to discredit the God of the universe and set up his own rule in this world. It is only by trusting the finished work of Jesus, recognizing our own inability to earn God’s favor, that we can be born again into the family of God. Many have opposed God and his ways from the beginning, but God will prevail and his truth will remain forever. Jesus Christ is our only hope!
At times, I have found myself lacking satisfaction in this truth. I have found myself looking to other things that have become functional saviors for me – family, success, power, authority, money, security, education, etc. – but time and time again I have seen that these things cannot save. All of them will let you down, just as they have let me down. It is only Jesus who saves. He alone is our hope, and he alone can reconcile us to our heavenly Father.
Second, followers of Jesus will suffer in this life. There will be people who tell you along the way that we should seek comfort, fulfillment and ease in this life. They are fools. This world is fading away and our time on it is like vapor that is here for a moment and gone the next. We ought never to live for this life alone, but with all eternity in our sights. That being said, the way of Jesus is the way of the cross, and he promised his followers that they would suffer trials and tribulations in the world, just as he did. He never promised comfort and ease, but difficulty as we seek to follow Christ in a hostile world. Remember that Jesus Christ suffered on our behalf, taking the punishment for our sin on the cross, and now we have been called to follow him in taking up our crosses daily for the fame of his name.
Third, the call to follow Jesus is a call to live a holy life. We don’t live a holy life in order to earn God’s love and acceptance, but we live a holy life because God has already lovingly and graciously accepted us in Christ. We are now a part of God’s family, the church, and we have been called to represent the family well in this world through conducting ourselves like our heavenly Father. Again, it is not our conduct that earns God’s favor, but because we have been brought into God’s family by grace, we live according to his ways and his plans. Many voices around the world have called for Christians to compromise on the values and morals taught in the Bible, but those voices will fade while the voice of the Creator will remain. Our citizenship is not of this world, but our citizenship is in heaven with God our Father. As a result, we will look different and feel out of place at times in this world. May God give you the resolve to press on in holiness, even when you feel that you are all alone in that endeavor. I hope you will be reminded that you are not alone. God is with you, and he has given you brothers and sisters in the church to walk alongside you. Lean on him, and lean on them. Because of all God has done, we seek to live a holy life to the glory of God.
Fourth, remember that God’s word is our authority in knowing truth about our Creator, King and Lord. Through looking at the world, we may know some truths about God’s power and majesty, but it is only in the Bible that we can come to know Him fully. Our Father in heaven has revealed Himself to us in Scripture, and we must make every effort to remain faithful to what He has communicated in it. There are many voices vying for your attention, but only God’s word is fully true and everlasting. Study it, live it and teach it to others. By being grounded in God’s word, we will never be shaken and will be able to stand firm through the greatest trials and temptations in our lives. Never seek to become the master of the word, but allow God’s word to master you. The Bible is our authority, and I pray that you will humble yourself underneath it, as I have sought to do in my own life.
Fifth, and lastly, never forget the mission that God has given His church. He has called us out of the world and made us His special people for a purpose – to proclaim His excellencies to the world. He has given us the charge to make disciples of all nations, and by aligning yourself with His mission in the world you will not lose focus. Be swept up into the mission of God, and invite others to come with you in that journey. Though God has called me to do this through a vocational ministry position, that may not be His plan for you. However, He calls each and every follower of Christ to proclaim the good news of the gospel to the lost world around them, and to be ambassadors for the kingdom of God as they live this this world. May you join in this great work of making disciples of all the nations, and may you never grow weary because you know that God’s kingdom is everlasting and He is utterly worthy of all we have to offer.
My son, these are some key things that I have learned over years of walking with Jesus, and I pray that you have seen them working out in my life each and every day. You have seen the way that I have lived and the things that I have lived for, and I hope that none of this is new to you. I hope that my life has modeled these principles and that I have taught them to you from childhood that they may be grounded in your very soul. Now, I charge you to do the same for your children – both children in the flesh and children in the faith.
Yours in Christ,