Dear Brethren and Sisters in the Lord,
A Stuffy little, eh? Just like that old school teacher being very white-shirt again? Well, maybe a little – we are of different generations, and putting myself into your vernacular isn’t always easy or, for that matter, wise either.
In the last couple of editorials I’ve written (I’m even using ‘I’ instead of the editorial ‘we’) I’ve been trying to help you over some of the humps of being “P.R.” in a liberal, so-called Christian world. You see, I haven’t forgotten what it was like, and I don’t want to forget, because I care about you. That is why the address: “Brethren and Sisters in the Lord.”
Too often it’s easy for those of us who are older to forget the fact that all of you are indeed soul brothers – in the Lord. The fact of confession of faith binds you closer to us it’s true, but still you are a part of us, that is, the Church, a very vital, viable part of us. After all, in a few short years, shorter than you even realize, you will be the ruling Church. That’s a heavy burden to bear!
It’s with that thought in mind that your school teachers constantly try to make you learn (You’ll need it, we know, we’ve been there!). More than facts and figures, we’ve been trying to teach you to be self-sufficient, to be knowledge-prone, to be inquisitive for truth, to be discriminating, to be more receptive to God’s glories, and to understand Him better.
Because you will be the ruling Church soon – oh so soon – we try to teach you to be a separate people. If you don’t know why you’re separate, read Rev. Ban Baren’s articles in the BEACON LIGHTS (June-July issue) and Standard Bearer (May fifteenth issue). These will help you put it all together.
I know it’s hard to stand separate! It’s always difficult to be different, to be unique. Remember when you falter, how much more different Christ had to be – and the milieu in which he moved was outwardly God-centered, too! Sure, our Churches have a reputation for being extraordinarily strait laced, and it can be embarrassing at times, but has it ever occurred to you that that’s a good sign? Take a good, hard look at the churches around you sometime. Look at what they believe, listen to the sweet words they mouth, and then look at what they produce. Are their children different from the world’s children? Are they spreading the Truth, or has the Lie infiltrated them so much that they just can’t tell the difference? If those churches are large, and look the same as the majority of those around them, the fact is that the Lie is more in them than the Truth in the world around them. The Word of God is always selective, and you won’t find universal acceptance and the Truth together.
There are many things that our Church should be better about. We should be more prayerful, we should be more open toward one another, we should love one another more. You’re right, of course, in many of your criticisms, but remember, Brethren and Sisters, you’re the Church too. Why don’t you do something about it? The problems we have are not so much collective problems, as individual ones – keep it in mind!
Brethren and Sisters in the Lord. Yes, it’s quite an old-fashioned addressed, but meaningful for all that. For generations it has been indicative of belonging, of being loved and needed. As you get older, those words will come to mean a great deal more to you, but for now, remember that you do belong, and you bear the joys and the responsibilities of belonging. To be understood you must understand, to be loved, you must love.
Originally Published in:
Vol. 31 No. 5 August/September 1971