What would you do if you told someone you were a Christian and they asked you for letters of recommendation? Who is in your life that you could ask to give detailed information about your faith in God?
According to scripture, it’s a valid question.
We can’t just call ourselves a Christian without some evidence. Our common sense tells us this. We read about men and women who suddenly decide they are actually members of the opposite sex and declare themselves to be so – and expect the world to go along with it. Biological evidence proves them to be deceived about who they are. I can’t suddenly decide I’m Asian, or a lawyer, or an award-winning actress. It would be foolish of me to go sit in my garage and think I’m a car!
In some cases, I’m able to become what I’d like to be. I can go to law school or join the local theater production and work on my acting skills. But no matter how I dress or speak, I can’t change my natural, inborn identity. I can’t become a man or change my ethnicity. That would require a transformation that can only be accomplished by the One who created me. Those characteristics and identifying traits are set in place from birth.
The same is true for spiritual transformation. We don’t just decide to become a Christian; we must be born again (John 3:3). This happens when we respond to the conviction of God’s Spirit about our sin (John 16:8-9) by repenting and placing our faith in Christ’s death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). By God’s grace, thru faith alone, He makes us alive, transforming our spiritually dead body, making us alive to Christ. That is what it means to become a Christian, a Christ-follower, a believer.
When something like that happens, there is evidence. Many things change, including our reputation in the community. Each of us should, like Paul, have “letters of recommendation” if someone asks about our faith. Here’s the thing … we’re not talking about actual, written, letters, but the resulting impact our faith has had on others.
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for 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. (2 Corinthians 3:1-3)
Paul’s life and ministry were evident in the many people he led to faith in Christ and the loving care he provided for those in the body of Christ. He did not need to defend himself; the evidence was clear. He had left a “trail” of changed lives as he crossed the continent with the good news of the gospel.
How about us? Are we leaving a trail of evidence by our impact on others’ lives? Would someone else’s life be a “letter of recommendation” as a person who loves and serves and believes in Jesus, because of how we have affected their lives?
Today is Thanksgiving. It’s a good day to remember those who have influenced us; we are their “letter of commendation” because of their impact on us in our spiritual transformation. And if we are honest enough with ourselves, it’s also a good day to consider who would be “our” letter? What would others write about you?