I love you. I really do. I don’t say that in any cheap, sentimental way, I mean it. As one bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ, you are a precious reminder of the magnitude of God’s grace and mercy. You are God’s called out ones, those who have been rescued from the depravity of your own flesh to live in communion with our Lord, Jesus Christ. So, I love you because God loves you. I love you because I am one of you and a great way for me to honor God is to love you. I don’t always love you well. I often fail to love you the way that Jesus commands me to, and thats not okay, but His grace covers all my failings. Naturally, as the redeemed community, His grace covers all your failings, so, we must rejoice in this glorious truth.
I was called by God, almost 15 years ago, to shepherd and lead you. God opened up many doors for me to get the discipleship, education, and experience that I needed to lead you. I don’t lead you perfectly. In fact, I fail miserably in my leading of you, but God’s grace covers all my failings. That doesn’t excuse my failings, but it does place them under the blood of Christ. Assuming that you understand your call love God and His people, I have one question for you: where are you? Where are you when we gather on Sunday mornings to hear the preached Word and fellowship with the other called out ones? Where are you during Sunday School when we meet to study and pray? Where are you on Wednesday nights when we meet for discipleship training and prayer? Where are you when we are trying to build community through fellowship activities?
You say that you love Jesus and His people, but your participation with Jesus and His bride is the exception, not the rule. I understand that you take vacations, go see family, and travel for other reasons, and you make those things a priority. As a pastor, appointed by God, I plead with you to give the church the same priority that you give other things. Assembling with God’s other called out ones is not merely an add-on to faith and belief, it is absolutely essential if we are to live in obedience to Jesus. We don’t meet together to earn God’s favor, we meet together because we are highly favored by God and we want to celebrate that truth with other called out ones. Please know, when you are missing, it makes my heart sad to see you absent again. It breaks my heart that you have chosen a lesser pleasure over communion with a great Savior and His called out ones. I sincerely want you to enjoy God’s good gifts to you, but not more than you enjoy God Himself.
With all the passion I can muster, I urge you not to see this as a plea for some legalistic activity, but to see it as a plea for choosing what is best over what is good. Enjoy time with family, take trips, and seek rest, but not at the expense of the church. I love you too much to not see you in the fellowship. Don’t come to hear great preaching–I’m certainly not great–come because you are called by a great Savior not only to be holy, but to have fellowship with other holy ones. You are loved by a righteous Father, a pastor, and a whole kingdom of fellow pilgrims. Give yourself to the Body of Christ. We can’t wait to see you again!