An Open Letter

Dear Reader,

I might know you, and I might not, but I already know something about you and I that makes us similar: neither of us is without sin. We have both committed crimes of cosmic significance against a perfect standard carried out by a Perfect Judge. We are incapable of doing any more, because we are broken by our very nature. It isn’t that if we try hard enough that we’ll somehow overcome this natural problem. Of course, some of our problems may be solved with medicine or some other invention, but our nature is not something so easily swayed. It would take a miracle to change it. Thankfully, we have a miracle.

No one can make you accept this miracle, just as no one can make you accept that you are not without sin. That is something you’ll have to come to terms with on your own. It should be obvious to you, though, that something isn’t right about yourself and the world around you; that peace has never lasted forever, that falsehood is often claimed as truth, that evil is pervasive, etc.

Dear Reader, the worst thing I could do (or any Christian for that matter) would be to ignore all of this. The worst thing I could do, the most unloving thing, would be to tell you that you’re okay and I’m not in a position to tell you whether you have sinned or not. The simple fact is that I know we have both sinned, and not telling you is simply lying to you. My personality often comes off strongly, but that doesn’t mean I am happy about having to tell you the truth of the matter. I’d rather have that cup pass me by. I’d rather someone else take my place, but I do not want to lie to you when that place is mine.

If you are not a Christian, I would implore you to become one. If you are already a Christian, I would implore you to stay true to the faith, conforming your feelings to it. We are often told to follow our hearts or that how we feel about something defines the reality of it, but nothing could be farther from the truth. There is nothing inherently good or trustworthy about our feelings. As CS Lewis put it:

“Don’t bother too much about your feelings. When they are humble, loving, brave, give thanks for them; when they are conceited, selfish, cowardly, ask to have them altered. In neither case are they you, but only a thing that happens to you. What matters is your intentions and your behaviour.”

It would be uncaring, unloving for me (or you) to withhold the obvious judgment of sin from another and simply accept it all. If I truly care for anyone else, it certainly means I care more for them than I do for their feelings. You are more than your feelings, and your feelings are your weakest part; they are the most easily swayed, and they are the least trustworthy.

Dear Reader, whether you know me or not, you can expect this to be my attitude as often as I can make it, for it is the ideal attitude that I strive for: To love you enough to love the whole you, not just your feelings. That means we might argue and it means you might come to have a highly negative opinion of me. It means I will likely hurt your feelings and that people who value peace more than Truth might get mad at me and call me names for doing so. But it won’t change the things that love demands, and it won’t change whether or not I carry those demands out.

This is the Christian position on the matter. It is harder than hatred, which cannot love, and apathy also, which ignores sin sinfully by disguising itself as love. The Christian position is the one in which I cannot ignore sin but also can’t stop loving the person committing it. It means I can’t, in good conscience, accept your sin as a part of who you are and simply ignore it, but can’t ignore you either just because it is easier. It means your character matters to me, but so to your mind, body, and spirit, and I refuse to separate them but instead to love you and reject your sin. It is the hardest of all positions to take, but it is the only correct one. I assure you I will fail to live up to this ideal, but it is what I strive for. I hope to God you strive for the same with me and don’t let me off easily when I pursue what is wrong because it is easier for you or because you believe it will cause me emotional trauma. My soul is more important than my feelings, and so is yours.

Dear Reader, keep this in mind, should our paths ever cross.

  • adam

    Thank you.

    • http://www.joshuapostema.com/ Joshua James Postema

      It has been on my mind for a long time, I just never found the words before. Thank you as well; you’ve been a great motivator in what I’ve read that you’ve written.

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