Jamie was visiting this weekend, and as we prepared to leave my parents’ home in Wichita Falls, I came across a large manilla envelope with my name on it. I had no idea what it was or where it came from. Since it had my name on it though, I went ahead and opened it.
Inside were dozens of letters. They all came from team members and coworkers from my summer in Salt Lake City back in 2014. It was weird, eye-opening, enlightening, encouraging, and a little confusing reading letters written to my former self. I pored over them, laughing at old memories, reminding myself of the ways that God moved in me and others that summer in Salt Lake City (I also remember that I selfishly chose not to write anyone else letters. Boo hiss 2014 me).
On my 16th birthday, my dad gave me a supremely special gift. As a present, he had a couple dozen men write me letters about what it meant to be a man. In these letters were timeless truths from the experiences that they had been through. It was an honor (although at the time I didn’t realize this) to read handwritten letters from these men who told me what it looked like to walk with God in every area of my life whether that be in friendships, marriage, vocation, or family. Texts just wouldn’t have meant the same to me, not to mention they’d be automatically deleted off my phone after 30 days.
That’s an aspect of the Christian life that I think we miss in our current day and age. There’s nothing like a letter from a friend. There really isn’t. At least in my experience. There is something about receiving a letter from someone you love, taking into account the time they took out of their day to write you. Texts, e-mails, voicemails, Facebook messages. All of these forms of communication can be used for encouragement and strengthening the body of Christ for sure, but there is something about a handwritten letter that takes it up a notch.
I know that 2nd and 3rd John came long before our modern communication techniques, but they are indeed personal letters from John to the ‘elect lady and her children’ (possibly a local congregation of believers) and to ‘Gaius” respectively. These are personal letters. From a man to his friends. From one follower of Christ to others.
These are notes snatched from the every-day correspondence of an Apostle – G.G. Findlay
Some scholars believe that John introduced himself in 2 John as ‘the elder’ instead of ‘the apostle’ because it is a little bit more affectionate as a title. This is just a little more confirmation about the nature of these letters. This may show us that he is writing as a friend and fellow Christ-follower in these letters, more than he’s writing as an authority figure to the church (although he does address doctrine).
This blog is definitely not like what you may be used to reading from me, but I hope I can encourage you to follow in the footsteps of not only the apostles of old, but also countless ministers and Christ-followers who have made it a practice of theirs to write letters to churches and friends. If you’ve got the letter-writing bug as I do, here’s some places to start.
1. The Person/People Who Led You To Christ
Even if you’ve been vocal about your gratitude towards this person(s) in the past, it wouldn’t hurt to write them a letter and remind them just how thankful you are that they had the boldness and courage to share with you the good news of the gospel. Yes, the Lord drew you to Himself, but it took men and women who were instruments of His grace in your life to bring you to salvation. Thank them for what they did.
2. A Non-Believer You Want To Share The Gospel With
Yes, we should be vocal in our conversations with non-believers about our faith (I need to work on this one desperately), but why not write them a letter about how you’ve been praying for them and how the gospel has transformed your life? They may or may not read it, and they may or may not respond. But you can show them just how precious the gospel is to you with a heartfelt note.
3. A Missionary In A Foreign Or Not-So Foreign Land
Write a letter to a church-planter, a missionary overseas, or a missionary in your own backyard. When I worked in Phoenix, I read countless letters of encouragement and prayer directed towards the staff of the church which I was a part of. They were lights in the middle of dark and difficult days of ministry. A letter of encouragement, Scripture, and prayers can go a long way.
4. The Christian Who Is Struggling
Be careful with this one. If you know of a follower of Christ who is walking through a difficult season, you can write them a letter of encouragement. I say be careful because it’s easy to spout out Scripture without showing compassion or concern for the person you are reaching out to. That being said, a letter of encouragement in the midst of trials can go a long way.
Write a letter to a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or sibling. Reach out to the family that the Lord has put you in. They may all be saved, or none of them may be saved. Find ways to encourage, equip, and evangelize through handwritten letters to the people who share your family heritage.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but I encourage you to walk through it, as will I.
There’s not much gospel in this blog, but I encourage you to put the gospel in letters to family, friends, fellow Christians, and those who don’t yet know Jesus.
Write for His glory.
In His Name,
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