Most of my messages are based on books that I have read. The most influential of these has always been the Bible. I was told as a child that it contained all I needed to know about the meaning and purpose of life. Such a notion has provided adequate motivation to make its acquaintance a daily habit. I have subsequently often found small things in its contents, which are very intriguing, to me at least, and allow my imagination to ramble along lines of reasoning uniquely my own.
Take for example a comment made by the Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Christian community in the Greek city of Corinth. This is a group he had founded, but it was also one that caused him a good deal of grief. It seems appropriate that he considered himself to be their spiritual father for their behavior mirrored that of many a mischievous child.
Defending his intrusion as a disciplining parent, he asked if he needed a letter of introduction to them in order to justify his attempts to impart some much needed guidance. Many of us as children have been on the receiving end of such a rhetorical question. No answer is really being sought by our parental authorities. Rather it is simply an introduction to the current lesson on proper deportment.
In the case of the Corinthian problem children the good man answered his own question by telling them that they were his letter; one written by their lord Jesus. The implication was that its contents were not of introduction but of commendation; another’s assessment of Paul’s efficacy as a parent. It is his use of this metaphorical image where the cogs in my brain begin to churn even though I have no obvious association with the apostle’s hard core case of delinquents.
My mental meandering begins with the simple act of demystifying the authorship of my own revealing epistle by asking, “Whose letter am I?” As a child, the answer would be almost exclusively my parents. As an older perpetrator of mischief the answer would be much more complex; teachers, friends, employers, a spouse and ultimately my children of natural and supernatural origin.
A follow-up question is far more challenging to contemplate. If I am a letter, what is my message? I can best answer that by telling you what I want it to be. Disregarding titles, although I have attained a few of them during my career, my preference would be for comments – and hopefully compliments – about my character. Honorable, trustworthy, loyal, truthful, compassionate, dependable and loving are the words I would want to hear spoken in eulogy at my funeral, if I could only manage to be in attendance for that particular occasion. Suffice it to say, I will be elsewhere.
What about you? If you think of your life as being someone else’s letter, what would your message be? What we value says a lot about who we are. The pursuit of fame and fortune seems to dominate the news as the popular measures of a person’s worth. At least these are the things that will make you newsworthy, if that is indeed your goal. If your self-appraisal is not all that commendable in your own eyes, it is not too late to make a change. That is one of the joys of life; we are never actually done living – learning, maturing and developing – until the eulogist has cause to prepare his or her comments concerning the message of our life.