I was recently reminded of a letter I received a long time ago. When I graduated college I got a letter from an anonymous letter from someone. The handwriting was untraceable, but it looked like it had come from the pen of someone from a previous time where penmanship was substantially more valued. To this day I don’t know who sent it, but I have my theories. Whoever it was knew that I was going off to my first job as a pastor. In it this anonymous older man basically gave me three ‘charges,’ three admonitions that started as harmless words but would carry on in my mind and heart for years to come. Here’s what it said:
I charge you to weep. Psalm 126:6 says “he who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy carrying sheaves with him.” Part of the reasons why our churches are emptying, dull, boring, and lifeless is because they are led by weepless shepherds. What we need are more leaders who’s hearts break over the people who are far from God, who’s souls agonize over the injustice and pain in the world. Paul wrote to the Philippians “I say this again even with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Phil. 3:18) More people attending our churches isn’t the solution. Better strategies and greater marketing isn’t the solution either. What is needed is broken vessels through which God’s power can radiate. Will you weep for those, will you allow your heart to break for those that are suffering or that are distant from God? Let us go out weeping! Will you pray unceasingly and in anguish to claim back souls from darkness, depression, addiction, and despair? We must be a Church that weeps.
I charge you to leap. In Luke 6:23 Jesus tells his disciples to “rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven” The Church has lost its leap. Christians ought to be the happiest people around, but so many times they are the sourest, the gloomiest, the most critical, and the most quick to dwell on the wrongs of the world, forgetting all its joys. At the core of Christian faith is the belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and that because of this death and sin is conquered once and for all, and we no longer need to view our lives as the long road into the endless darkness, but as a journey that is always moving towards a sunrise, a Great Dawn, a new world, the hope of the ages. Why ever do we let despair overtake us!? Let us go forward every day rejoicing, even in the midst of life’s darkest hours, let us leap, for we know that death will not have the last word, the sunrise awaits. We must be a Church that leaps.
Finally I charge you to keep. Its a race, and the temptation in long races is to quit. Quit on our morals, our convictions, our callings. Quit on a relationships, our investments, our faith. Quit on our beliefs, our dreams, and our goals. Keep going. Don’t quit! The work of faith is difficult. It is hard to care more about people than they care about themselves. Its hard to continue giving people your time and attention and effort, only to see them squander it away in sin and complacency. It is hard to continue pouring out when you’re running on empty. Its even harder not to cave under the pressures of life when it seems they are firing from every direction at once. 1 Tim. 6:12 says “fight the good fight of the faith, and keep holding on to the eternal life to which you were called.” The goal is close in sight. We must be a Church that keeps.
So therefore go, and weep. Be broken for the people who God is seeking. Go and leap…enjoy life, laugh, celebrate the great prize that awaits, the hope of a new world. And finally go and keep. Don’t ever quit. Remember the one who endured a bloody cross conquered victoriously, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.