Open letters appear to be a trend these days, especially on social media. A quick scroll through Facebook reveals an open to letter to … “the friend I lost too young,” “anyone looking for love,” “parents who financially support adult children,” “my neighbors who have a grill,” “Millennials writing open letters” – the list goes on and on.
Google explains that the purpose of an open letter is to address publically a certain individual or group of people in an often critical manner. To me, it’s like saying what’s on your heart without saying it directly to a person. If it strikes a chord with the reader, then that’s likely for whom it was intended.
Perhaps, in a way, open letters are akin to conviction. I’m certainly not downplaying the role of the Holy Spirit or saying that a man-written letter replaces it. But what I am saying is that sometimes these open letters function as tools of conviction, and they hit hard; they pierce the heart, and it hurts – in an infuriatingly good and gracious way.
Yesterday, I read one like that. Actually, my husband read it to me. It was written by Paul Middleton, a pastor my husband learned and served under for several years. Almost 20 years later, Paul continues to pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Batesville, Mississippi. My husband pastors a church now too. In fact, Paul helped my husband work through and understand God’s calling on his life. Their mentoring relationship continues to remain strong. And because Paul has had such an impact on my husband’s life, he now influences my life.
So when my husband came home yesterday and said he wanted to read something to me that Paul had written, I listened. And quickly decided I needed to share it. He didn’t title it, so I’ve decided to call it “Paul’s Open Letter to Jesus.”
I have been reading a lot lately, and I have realized something.
I hate to tell You this, but You could use some sensitivity training. Was it really necessary to label an entire group “a brood of vipers?” Let’s watch our words, please.
Didn’t you know that Your insistence of heaven’s entry plan would obliterate the commonly held belief that there are many ways to eternal bliss? Did you have to polarize people with such a rigid stance? Did You mention a place of eternal torment for those who refused Your forgiveness? Seriously? Were You not privy to a few advisors? I can be fairly certain the cue cards specifically mentioned love and peace.
And about that lady … You know the one. You told her … gulp … to “go and sin no more.” Jesus, did it ever cross Your mind that she would hear that statement as a personal attack on her way of living? Dare I say, You made a moral judgment that her lifestyle was wrong? Do You know how high and mighty that sounds? Didn’t You know that was degradingly offensive?
Honestly, I do not know what to say to You. Everywhere I look, I see articles and read statements about how You would act and speak. But, then I read the New Testament. I have to be honest. You do not seem to be the man everyone brings into today’s charged conversations. I must conclude that either the biblical writers manufactured their spiritual teacher or else this culture doesn’t really know You.
Which one is it?