I don’t know where you are in life right now, but if you are not living for God, if you are not living as though Christ is your everything, if you are not bearing your cross and are instead chasing fading pleasures of this world, please hear this plea from your once naïve (and still naïve in many ways) student.
Do you remember when you used to teach me when I was a child? Every Sunday my friends and I would gather in our small classroom (we rented a school for the church), ready for another lesson from the Bible. I was not the most teachable or the most well-behaved student (probably the least), and I would always look for an opportunity to be a ‘smart alec’ and win giggles from my friends. I’ve been sent out so many times that I’ve learnt to entertain myself. I must have been a nightmare to teach because I was naughty and simply couldn’t care less for what you had to say about God. And yet, you still taught me for more than five years. You taught me about creation, how God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. You taught me about Noah’s ark and the flood that swallowed the wicked. You taught me that God protected Joseph from his brothers and Daniel from the lions. You taught me that we have all sinned and that the only way to be saved was through Jesus. You taught me about the one who I live for today, Christ.
Why then, are you not living what you once preached? Why did you spend hours preparing lessons for us? Why did you tell me that Christ is my Saviour and Lord, if he isn’t yours anymore? Is it because ‘stuff’ happened in life that made you change your priorities? Is it because your parents stopped dragging you to go to church? Is it because the poison that the world offers is just too sweet to resist? Whatever the reason, I wish that you would turn back to Christ and not trade an eternity of ineffable joy for a lifetime of fading pleasures. The pearl that you once gave me, I want to return.
The year after I finished high school was the year that I understood what it was that you taught me. It was the year that God gripped me so violently that he freed me from a sinful addiction and all the folly that leads to death. God, who I once thought found you, found me. To be honest, I cannot fully explain what happened to me. God’s divine power and love in changing a heart of stone to a heart of flesh is indescribable, just like Him. But what I do know is that I experienced a joy like no other, a joy that you once claimed to have also experienced. When I became a Christian, I knew and believed that what you once taught me was indeed true. There is a God and condemnation awaits those who deny Christ or fail to stand firm in their faith. Christ is the only way that we can be saved. Consider what you have taught me, you who were once my leaders. Do you not believe what you taught? Is my faith not proof that your teachings were true?
Some of you may think to yourselves, ‘It’s more complicated than that Justin’ or even ‘You’re a fool for believing in lies’. But as missionary and martyr Jim Elliot once wrote, ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose’. You claim that you are your own God. Then tell me this: which of you knows when you will die? Oh, how uncertain are the things of the world. You chase after careers and promotions and all sorts of earthly comforts and ‘meanings to life’, but you know very well that neither they nor you will remain forever. After all, what can you take with you after you die? Do the poor and the rich not share the same end? You should know where I’m going with this. The gospel you once preached offers a consolation to all these things. It is God who breathes life into humans, and he can just as quickly take it away. Yet God tells us that death is not the end for those who believe in Christ. He promises Christians something they cannot lose.
Right now, I am around the same age or stage in life that you were back then. I’m a university student and I’m also a Sunday school teacher for children at my church. When I see the kids that I teach, I pray and think to myself: ‘Please God, preserve these children and bring them up to also profess Christ as Saviour and Lord’. But I also pray that God will preserve me, for my godliness and steadfastness is just as much a testimony to God’s grace as what I teach.
May God answer this prayer I have for you, you who were once my leaders but have fallen away:
“Dear heavenly Father, you alone know the ugly mess of emotions inside me when I think and pray for my once leaders who now have fallen away from their faith. Why O God did you use them to teach me the gospel only to have them deny it with their lives right after? Were we all not seeds who fell on good soil? Where did the thorns come from to choke such promising plants? Why did you have mercy on me, but not them? If anyone should be saved, shouldn’t it be them over me? And yet no one is worthy to warrant your overwhelming love and grace. And so, by that same love for our world that is unexplainable and demonstrated by the sending and forsaking of your Son, please bring them to truly believe in Christ. Hear my cry and be merciful O great God, for it so much pains me that my once leaders dedicated time and resources to preaching what is true, and now these very people burn their work and trample over your pearl. Show them that precious pearl through your flawed servant or by other people and means, so that they may remember their teachings and no longer walk in darkness.
I pray this in your Son’s most holy name, Amen.”