The Truest Letter of Recommendation


In Surge, we’ve been reading a book called You Can Change, by Tim Chester.

And, in all honesty, I’ve been hating it.

I don’t hate it because there’s anything wrong with the book. I think I hate it because I know I can change, and I also know that, while my commitment level, choices of strategy, and will power all factor into my ability to change, God is the only true agent of change.

We’ve read 3 chapters, and what they’ve basically said is that Jesus has made atonement for our sins, so we shouldn’t try to change ourselves in order to somehow win His favor. It also says that we shouldn’t try to change to impress ourselves or others, and that we actually aren’t very good at changing ourselves, and thus, God is really the one Who has to change us. It also says that legalism is a problem in most people’s hearts, and we shouldn’t rely on the law for much other than to reveal our inability and inadequacy to keep the law.

Of course, there are more details in the book, but those are pretty much the basics, which is good, because those are also basics of the faith.

I think I got the idea, way back when that whole mess with the big church was happening, that Surge was this important advanced training thing. It was oh-so-very-exclusive… only certain people were deemed “mature enough” to participate. And everyone acted like it was solid-food Christianity. It was as if anyone who hadn’t been included was missing out on something major. We were lacking, and our lack wasn’t even address-able by Surge because we weren’t mature enough in our faith to be ready for Surge.

But what I’m realizing is that Surge is the basics.

It’s that the Son of God died for the benefit of sinners; therefore, how does that apply to everything…

which is really what I’ve been studying since my adoption into the family of God.

Surge is just one more Bible study/discipleship program/thing that has the noble goal of teaching people what this whole “being a Christian” thing even is.

In all honesty, Surge isn’t particularly special or advanced.

I’ve had a ton of opportunities to learn all of the things Surge is teaching, because God gave me the blessing of a good church at the right time, and because I was born into literacy.

I’ve been in Bible studies that addressed everything Surge is addressing. I’ve read books that addressed everything Surge is addressing. In fact, I’ve read my Bible, which addresses everything Surge is addressing.

There’s this passage in 2Corinthians 3 that’s been on my heart for several years now, because of the confidence I have in my spiritual upbringing. It goes like this:

2You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on oura hearts, to be known and read by all. 3And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.b

God has taught me what I need to know. He provided me with a foundation worthy of His calling – a foundation that not everyone has been blessed to receive. He granted me favor by, not only adopting me into a Heavenly family, but also by lending me an earthly family that revealed Heavenly mysteries.

That adoption is why I’m able to read Tim Chester’s book with a sense of, well… of course it’s about Jesus. That adoption is the reason I cognitively know the role of the law in my life (though my spirit oft needs reminding). It is the reason Surge is a refresher to me rather than something new and revolutionary (no pun intended… for those of you who know) and the reason I’ve read good books that reinforced the gospel foundation in which I was raised.

Often, when I’m making life decisions, or when I’m about to say something stupid, or chase the wrong man, I’m reminded that I am a “letter from Christ, delivered by” folks who toiled to give me a worthy foundation. It’s a lovely thing to know that who and what I become is important for more than just myself. I serve as a letter of recommendation, whether I want to or not, so when Christ seems distant or abstract and my faith is too small, I still have a reason to attain to be worthy of the calling of Christ. I still know that who I am and who I am becoming is something I owe. I was bought with a price on two levels. I was purchased with the blood of Christ, and I was purchased with the sweat of those who offered me unavoidable opportunities to stand upon the worthy foundation.

Because I think Dave and Lisa would want it included, the passage continues…

4Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Perhaps, somewhere down the road, I might be allowed to deliver a letter from Christ as well. Perhaps I’ll find myself a sufficient minister, who is allowed to participate in laying the worthy foundation for another. Perhaps…

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