Friday, July 25, 2008

God's Letters to the World

"The Bible doesn't say anything to me," sneered the atheist.

Replied the Christian, "The Bible is God's letter to believers; so if you don't understand it, that serves you right for reading someone else's mail!"

Letter-writing--the kind that requires selecting attractive writing paper and a good-quality pen, and personally setting down the words in one's own unique handwriting--is something of a lost art in this age of word processors and e-mail. When you get a letter from somebody who took the trouble to do it the old-fashioned way, you know he or she considers you someone special.

God must consider us very special indeed. Even before He took the trouble to oversee the writing of the Bible, He created the whole world, carefully designed to fill our needs for beauty and sustenance. It must break His heart to see how many people--and that includes quite a few Christians--regard Scripture as "interesting literature" at best, ignore sunrises and flowers as we rush about our worldly concerns, and abuse Creation by tossing our litter about as though the whole world were a garbage can. People can learn to take anything for granted.

Including the privilege of being called to do God's work. Many believers have actually defended their lack of concern for the lost by quoting Scripture. "Since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Rom. 1:20, NIV)--so why should we bother speaking about God to people who evidently won't listen to God Himself? Even many Christians who do speak about God never bother considering whether their everyday attitudes and actions project the image of someone who is saved and grateful for it. A quick reading of the Gospels should convince anyone that God hates a cold, selfish, holier-than-thou attitude perhaps more than any other sin. And vice versa.

As the old saying goes, "You are the only Gospel some people will ever read." If the Bible is God's letter to believers, we are His best letter to the rest of the world.

God writes His letters to the world
In fields of shining stars,
In all the beauty of the birds
Throughout this world of ours,
In rainbows arching through the sky,
In flowers at our feet,
In trees that dip with heavy fruit
That ripens fresh and sweet.

God writes His letters to the world
Through all who ever praised
His Name through poem or painted art
Or great cathedral raised,
And most of all throughout His Word,
In every chapter there
That ever moved a soul to weep,
Or lift a joyous prayer.

God writes His letters to the world
In human deeds of love,
In every little kindness shown
To honor Him above,
Through human hearts that mirror His:
And, Father, let me be
Another scribe to tell Your tale--
Dear Jesus, speak through me!

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