Colin Thompson, Gateshead, England

                                                                                                www.cthompson.org.uk/colin.html

                                                   

 

Yet Another Open Letter to the Church in Gateshead.

 

Hi again in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. I do hope you are well and enjoying the company of our Friend, Jesus Christ.  A merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you.

This is now the third letter written to all the members of the church in Gateshead whose addresses I have.

If by now anyone is becoming annoyed or irritated by receiving these letters I do apologise and ask that they let me know and I’ll see that they get no more. I am continuing to write on the basis that it is good to talk (or write, where talk is not possible.) As ever, anyone wishing to be included in the directory of the church in Gateshead and to receive a copy of the same need only get in touch.

I’m very much exercised with the twin injunction we have to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and to love the brethren.

In John’s first letter, chapter 4, 23 we are told;’ This is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he commanded.’

In Paul’s letter to the saints at Colosse he writes, chapter 1 verse 4;”since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of truth of the gospel.”

Also in John’s first letter, chapter 3, verse 14;  We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. He who doesn't love his brother remains in death. 3:15Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.

3:16By this we know love, because he laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 3:17But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and closes his heart of compassion against him, how does the love of God remain in him? 3:18My little children, let's not love in word only, neither with the tongue only, but in deed and truth. 3:19And by this we know that we are of the truth, and persuade our hearts before him.”

We may have the impression that Christ’s commandment to all who follow Him to love one another, as He loved us, is ..….nice. By that I mean, something a bit idealistic, like belonging to the hippy era of the late 1960’s. We may think it would be nice – if only everyone else would play along.

However, if we look at John’s gospel chapter 13, verse 33 to 35, we can see that Jesus was dead serious about this matter; “Where I am going, you can't come, so now I tell you. 13:34A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just like I have loved you; that you also love one another. 13:35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

As Christ was leaving them, and would not be there to love them in the way he had up till then, He instructs them to love one another, on His behalf. If there is one commandment that goes with ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ’; surely it is this one, that we love one another.

Paul writes to the saints at Colosse, chapter 2, verse 1,  “For I desire to have you know how greatly I struggle for you, and for those at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; 2:2that their hearts may be comforted, they being knit together in love.”

My earnest desire for the church in Gateshead is that we may be knit together in Christ’s love. Not in words but in deeds. After the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ has been laid, our being built together in love into a holy house for His dwelling place is absolutely essential.

Will you pray that we may be knit together in love?

The last thing I am looking for is for us to manufacture some kind of community between us. But we can have a tangible demonstration of the love of God poured abroad in our spirits if we just get out more and get in touch with our local brothers and sisters. In what sort of natural family don’t the members communicate with each other? How will we encourage one another, exhort one another, support one another if we never see one another?

I find it helps to try and see the church as Christ sees it. There is a church in Sunderland and one in Newcastle just as there is a church in Gateshead. They are each local, temporal expressions of His Universal Bride. While we may have no problems with the Universal, we sure may have difficulties with the local, here and now church that we are a part of.

Those who are believing upon Christ are commanded to 'love one another, as I have loved you'. I reckon this helps define the church we are a part of.

When Paul wrote to the saints at Colosse 'that you may be knit together in love' he meant the saints at Colosse.

Being knit together in love does not depend on whether or not we have the same 'norms' or expectations of behaviour, teaching or forms of service.

It depends purely upon the love of God being shed abroad in our hearts by the Spirit and our obedience to the rule of the Spirit.

I don't care what my fellow saints in Gateshead believe about head coverings, women's roles, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Roman Catholics, speaking in tongues, healing, apostles, prophets, total abstinence, divorce, re-marriage after divorce, falling down, laughing, crying, versions of scripture, modes of baptism, ..... I'm running out of possible areas of disagreement but I'm sure someone will think of something.

If they are Christ's then I have to love them, learn to ‘wash their feet’ and try to break bread with them in remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ as He also commanded us.

If we do this we have some chance of something like 'normal' church life.

If we don't do this, then we may fool ourselves but........

If we seek to be obedient in the matter of loving one another, we will seek out one another, He will lead us to one another and we will find our ‘one anothers’. We will also find that there is great joy in serving Jesus in the way He talked about in Matthew’s gospel, 25; 37;

"Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? 25:38When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? 25:39When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?'

25:40"The King will answer them, 'Most assuredly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers you did it to me.'

Surely this was the same thing that James was thinking off when he wrote, “faith without works is dead.”

So I’ve written to encourage us all to pray that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ in Gateshead may be truly knit together in love. I believe it is what we all desire, we know it is what the Head of the church desires.

Anything less would be a tragedy. Will we settle for anything less?

 

It’s good to talk.  Please feel free to contact me in person or by post, phone or at colin@cthompson.org.uk

All the best,

 

 

Colin Thompson.