An open letter:
“My dear friend:
Every time you cross my mind, I smile and break out in exclamations of thanks to God! Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on this, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish, on the very day Christ Jesus appears. It’s not at all fanciful for me to think this way about you. My prayers and hopes have deep roots in reality.
All along, you have experienced, just like me, the most generous help from God. He knows how much I love and miss you these days. Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does!
So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much, but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you care—then do yourself a favor: Agree with others, love people, be a deep-spirited friend. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourself long enough to lend a helping hand.
Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night(…)
The real believers are the ones the Spirit of God leads to work away at this ministry, filling the air with Christ’s praise as we do it. We couldn’t carry this off by our own efforts, and we know it—even though we can list what many might think are impressive credentials.
So let’s keep focused on that goal, because we want everything God has for us. If you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal.
There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.
But there’s far more to life for us. We, my dear friend, are citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.
I want you to remember to celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can, to all you meet, that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns! Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Summing it all up, I’d like to say to you: Do your best, by filling your mind and meditating on what is true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you’ve learned, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies!
I am looking forward to see for myself, His amazing work in and through you! You are always on my mind and heart, and I hope to see you again, very soon!“