21 December 2011

Open Letter to Jesus Christ

by Frank Turk


Dear Jesus,

As you know, I have spent this year blogging Open Letters to various public figures (and avoiding writing some other Open Letters like the one to the pastor who baptized me, and to my wife and my children) with the hope that these people (myself included in the list) would take a moment to listen to someone from outside of their personal echo chambers.  Someday, we'll all know how well that turned out -- both from the receiving end when the great Book is opened on those I blogged, and from the sending end when the great Book's folio appendix with my name on it is opened and my deeds and misdeeds are spelled out so that there's no mistake: for me to be with God's people in the final account required something and someone much more that I have been.  My hope is that they reflect on these things which, I think, in some way they all have to have some sympathy for -- because they all claim that their primary objective is to follow you and, in some way, show you to other people.

This is the thing I am thinking of as this years closes up and I finish this series of open letters: following you, and showing you to others.  Some people think we show you to others by going big -- big dreams, big churches, big books about big subjects like leadership and productivity as a demonstration of stewardship.  Some people think it's in the big special effects which we make much of you -- be it in the inexplicable supernatural by casting out demons, or command healing, or other the other side of the fence in feeding 5000 people or rebuilding a third-world nation.  I think it's funny how American all that really is -- that go-big or go-home attitude of accomplishments as if what we are set out to do here is accomplish something which the Bible says doesn't happen until after you have cast Sin, Death and the Devil into the lake of fire.  There's nothing really Christian about that stuff even though Christians have done a pretty good job of it since you left us here to baptize and make disciples.  It's like we badly-translated the place where Moses says, "You shall therefore be Holy, for I am Holy," to say, "therefore, because I am so Big, you must be Big."

See: I think that's why you came the way you did.  John sort of rushes over this because for him, the "good part" of the Incarnation was the Godness of you -- that You, who is at the Father's side, has revealed to us the Father, and are one with Him.  That's an important point, and one I think these big doers all get well enough.  But the way you actually came -- which John rolls out in one word ("ἐγένετο") but Matthew and Luke roll out in chapters of reference and detail -- is a sort of open letter on the whole thing, the whole enterprise.

You didn't come big, did you?  Not big as we measure it, to be sure -- because if we measured big by the standard of the Nativity, the conception and birth of children would not be treated as such a passe thing by us.  You came small.  You came so small that in spite of the fact that angels announced your birth, and pagan sky-watchers could recognize the star which was set in the heavens to mark your birth and would came to worship you, all of Bethlehem did not turn out to greet you.  The advisors to Herod could not be bothered to come and see for themselves if the King of the Jews had been born.

You came small.

Another way to say that, I think, is that you came in a deliberate or single-minded way: not in a way which is too big to grasp.  I mean: you could have followed the Holy Spirit, right?  We could have first had Pentecost in which all of Jerusalem was speaking in tongues and raising the dead, and then you could have come on a white horse with a great sword in your mouth to judge the nations, and then set right your Kingdom forever -- and the outcome would have been just fine: an eternal kingdom where you rule over your people and the evil are justly set under your footstool.

But you didn't work it out that way.  You didn't want it that way, if we believe Peter and that crazy cousin of yours, John.  You worked it out so that you came as the least of the least so that you could be the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world -- born in a stable like any decent lamb, and discovered by shepherds, and then finally put to death at the hands of evil men for the sake of paying the price for their sins for God's sake.

Now, as I write this, the fire is burning in my fireplace.  I have a robe on, and warm pants, and I have a full tummy.  In spite of being "on vacation" I have also worked every business day in the last week, and I'll get paid on Friday.  I haven't been uncomfortable in decades -- including the few times I have been really, really sick -- because frankly I live better than Herod, in better conditions and with more security.  And when I consider that feeding trough you were laid in to sleep, and the rags you were wrapped in for warmth, and the world you chose to be born into -- because let's face it, you could have waited 2000 years more and been born in America where the worst discomfort is choosing to drink water when you eat out rather than soda -- I read an open letter regarding my own big dreams.  And it puts to shame the fact that in the last week I did more to pad my own nest than I did to find someone to tell about you and make them a disciple of you.

I thank you, God, for your humility which intentionally comes to us as an open letter, a written word for us to consider.  You could have been born into the house of David in a palace of cedar, and you chose instead to be born without a home in the city of David, with no place for you in the inn -- for no other reason than to show us that you do not need our help to save the world, but you come to us to save it anyway.  And you call us not to be the greatest, but the least -- to be a slave like yourself, utterly used for the sake of something other than our own big plans.

So my open letter to you, Jesus, is to ask that your open letter to us do more for us than my small collection of pointed statements could ever do.  Since my open letters made no impact on those I wrote them to, God, let yours dispatch our pride, and arrogance, and super-sized vision casting, and self-promotion, and politics, and theological posturing, and glib epithets, and moral inertia, and cowardice, and fear of being wrong, or fear of being seen as even merely mistaken, and all the other misdemeanors and offenses we invent to make much of ourselves, especially under the cover of making much of you.

Forgive us, God, and cause us to repent.  If it meant so much that you were born in a stable to do it, and would die on a cross to do it, and would overcome and undo death to do it, then please God: overcome the internet and our fragmented church culture to do it.  Someone on the internet is wrong, Jesus -- and sometimes it is me.  May every person who calls on your name this year see how true this is of himself, and let him publicly repudiate his misdeeds as he has publicly perpetrated them.

My thanks for this last year, Lord, and my life.  Help me not to squander it, and to follow you from the stable to the cross to the grave in whatever place you put me.

Glory to you, and peace to those upon whom your favor rests.

Your undeserving servant,

Frank Turk



29 comments:

Thomas Louw said...

May all the trolls pass here today.

I already did.

Nice letter.

Now let me get back to padding my nest.

Tom Chantry said...

Let me say this, the challenge of this letter is like the challenge of listening to a challenging sermon.

Step One: Stop making a mental list of all the other people who should be convicted but won't be.

Step Two: Apply the evident biblical truth to my own foolish pride and ambition.

Robert Warren said...

Good news, Frank; He's already addressed one of your requests: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but sit shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Is 55:10-11
That was fast.

Robert said...

Thanks, Frank. This definitely hits home for me.

I am especially challenged in the area of "fear of being wrong, or fear of being seen as even merely mistaken" and have been trying to work through this through Christ. I can see some of this in my oldest son and so I want to work to set a better example for him so that we are always looking to Jesus.

John Dunn said...

Frank, inasmuch as you are filled with the Spirit of Christ . . . you show that you are a letter from Christ . . . written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts (2Cor3:3).

Frank, in Christ *you* are a most effectual letter of Christ for the world to read. All of the ink in the world could not make up for one drop of the Spirit's life-giving power working in you.

Thanks for this very challenging letter. And continue to magnify Christ, walking abundantly in the Spirit!

Frank Turk said...

You can quote me on this:

The singularly-worst attribute of people with opinions is the inability to see the flaws in those opinions and own them. This is not limited to bloggers, but in every walk of life: business, ministry, marriage, politics, education, etc.

It's root is pride, and people who don't think they have this problem are the worst offenders.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you! This letter refocused my attention where it should be, on Jesus.

I was spending too much of my morning fussing and carping over preparations for the arrival of guests today.

Lord, give me a simple, quiet spirit of joy in the midst of all this nest-feathering. Let me leave off fussing and carping. Let me welcome my guests, some of whom know not You, with gentleness and peace.

Kerry James Allen said...

"The thought that there beats a heart in heaven that is always loving us, that there moves a tongue in heaven that always pleads for us; that there is an arm in heaven that always fights for us; and that there is a foot in heaven that will be swift to run for our defence--oh, this is a precious consolation!" CHS

Solameanie said...

What Tom Chantry said . . . ditto.

Fred G said...

Yes you are sqandering your life, by living on a computer. Are you waiting for a bolt of lightning or something to realise this? All the yes men and women on here need to cut off your IV of ego fluids so you can see how sqanderlishish you are. I know I know, you puritan wannabes are consumed with the pursuit of knowledge and have built up so much you have to have an outlet. Let me suggest an outlet of love maybe, no probably not. I mean what fun is that,jacking everyone up is such a better use of time i suppose. Though as an addendum most of the people you jackup certainly deserve it though assigning yourself as the jackerupper seems to be quite fruitless use of your time. Just a humble opinion of someone who unlike you is able to see the truth in the futility of this blogging poopoo.

DJP said...

Ignorance + internet access - self-awareness = bad combo

Kerry James Allen said...

Frank, Dan, somebody please filter the comments that are obscuring my desire to see what Christ means to my brethren. "Devils are not to be reasoned with, but to be cast out." Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Andrew Lindsey said...

Fred G's comment= the ultimate "like ministry" comment evar!

[It's a wonder he would waste the precious time he's been given even reading this blog-- though not reading it very well-- or writing a comment.]

Robert said...

Fred G,

One thing that I got from these letters is application to my own life with regards to theology, ecclesiology, etc. And after a few months, I realized (at least I think I am right here) and appreciated that Frank was writing these letters moreso for the benefit of his audience here than the stated recipients of the letters themselves. Indeed, only a couple of the stated recipients actually interacted with Frank about what he had written here, so I think that shows that Frank knew what he was doing.

Basically, I am saying that you have missed the entire point of these letters...I think that this one actually does a good job of summing up what Frank originally intended. Of course, I could be wrong and showing entirely too much grace towards Frank...somehow I am thinking that he would definitely not be used to most people doing so online, though, so I'm sure he'd still be on the short end of that stick.

BerlinerinPoet said...

Wow! What an encouraging post to read this morning. Thank you!

and Fred G....come on. Do you hate happiness or something?

Mike Gantt said...
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Mike Westfall said...

Ah... Your best open letter yet.
Thanks, Frank.

Jerry Brown said...

Good stuff, Frank.

Scooter said...

and fear of being wrong, or fear of being seen as even merely mistaken, and all the other misdemeanors and offenses we invent to make much of ourselves, especially under the cover of making much of you.


I'm impressed and saddened on how often these things creep into my life, especially as I consider a new department at work and see my heart going, "Now's your chance to have a bigger impact." My wife and I now have something specific to help our prayers these next few days. Thanks.

Frank Turk said...

Fred G -

I forgive you.

Merry Christmas.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Frank,

I don't know if the open letter series will continue in the coming year, but just wanted to say thank you for doing them. I've learned much from reading them and the subsequent discussions that follow.

It makes me think of 2 Corinthians 10:5 "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." It's a both/and kind of thing, and something I think y'all at TeamPyro do well, which is why I keep coming back for more.

Thank you also for including the third person plural near the end of your letter--because it's exactly what "we" needed--those of us who can say amen to it. It's not just about dealing with the other guy's wrong speculations and lofty things, but repenting of our own as well. And we all need to be reminded of it fairly regularly.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Phil and Dan and all you other regulars and trolls as well!

Coram Deo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sir Aaron said...

There's only one thing to say to this post, Frank.

Amen.

Rachael Starke said...

Wonderful. If I didn't know better, I'd say that the reason you'd written all the others was to set the stage for this one.

Mike Gantt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
donsands said...

Excellent words to our Savior and Lord. Thanks Centurion. You truly have a heart after our Lord's own heart. (1 Sam 13:14)

Merry "Joy to the World! Let earth receive her King!" Christmas!

May our Lord bless your heart and soul with His infinite peace and priceless rest and joy, as you continue to walk by faith in 2012 my good brother in Christ. Keep on speaking the truth in love! (Along with your two TeamPyro amigos as well.)

May our Lord come back soon, and so we shall ever be with our Savior and Lord and Friend! Amen.

Reforming Baptist said...

All your open letters are getting old.
Who are you going to write one to next?
Santa Claus?

DJP said...

Yes, I suppose the Stupidest Comment of the Year competition is still open for a few more hours, Pacific time.

Michael Coughlin said...

AMEN!