Hi. You might be wondering why I’m writing this letter. You probably don’t get many of these from 22 year-old Americans. Or maybe you do–but I’d bet they aren’t encouraging. You don’t need me to remind you that my generation is leaving you in the dust, declaring that you’re closed-minded and suffocating, then going on to seek freedom elsewhere.
I admit I’ve been there. I’ve walked away from you thinking you had nothing to offer me. I thought you were a place for stuffy people to feel better about themselves. There were times I stuck around because you offered me an affluent preacher, quality music, and good coffee. But when times got hard, or you stopped performing to my standards, or I disagreed with you, I stopped coming. I didn’t think you were worth sticking around.
This is not to say I didn’t love what you were about. I love Jesus. In fact, for a while there, that was all I would say. I remember a few times when someone referred to me as “religious” and I could feel my eye twitch. I wanted to correct them, defend myself–“I swear I’m not like the rest of them!” I knew enough people who walked away from Jesus because of something you did and, I admit, I was not willing to stick up for you. I loved Jesus, period. I didn’t want to be associated with you. I even hesitated to call myself a “Christian.”
But I’m starting to realize something that’s changing everything. By spending more time with you, often reluctantly, something’s happening in me.
I’m starting to love you.
I don’t love you because you’re lovable. I don’t love you because I agree with you in every matter. I don’t love you because you’re always honest, welcoming, and fun. I don’t love you because you measure up and meet my expectations.
I certainly don’t love you because you’re perfect. In fact, you’re very far from it.
The reason I love you is simple: Jesus loves you. And if I claim to love Him and be what He’s about, then I’m about loving you. There’s no denying He loves you–He gave up His life for you. He calls you His Bride.
And if I thought the only things worth loving were perfect things then I’d live a loveless life.
And I’d rather live a life of love than a life that’s always politically correct, put-together, and well-rehearsed.
Church, I see your flaws, and I don’t want to be blind to them and pretend they’re not there. I want to acknowledge them, forgive them, embrace them, and love you anyway. I commit to sticking with you through the highs and lows, praying for you when you’re weak, and sticking up for you when you’re wrongly accused. I will come alongside you in your mission and remind you when you forget: it’s about Jesus. It’s about the saving love of the gospel. Love on a cross.
I commit to these things not because you deserve it, but because I seem to remember Someone doing it for me when I didn’t deserve it, and I’d be lost without that Love.
Let’s work together with the power of the Holy Spirit to show, to remind, to proclaim that saving Love to the world.