A Love Letter to the American Church

Dear American Church (AC),

I have felt many things in my heart that I have wanted to say to you. But I couldn’t really decide on the best way to let you know what I feel. After lots of starts and unfinished attempts I remembered that there’s this one thing I am really good at…writing letters to those I love. So today, I write to you, dear AC. I write because I care and because silence isn’t always the right thing.

You and I know each other very well. I grew up with you all around me. You encouraged me, strengthened me, pushed me to be who I am today. You know what I was like as a painfully shy child, an awkward but ever-learning adolescent, an incredibly passionate member always proud of having been raised in your presence. I love you. And no matter how much time I spend in other places, you will always have a special place in my heart.

But my dear AC. Oh how my heart has been burdened for you. How heavy it has grown under the weight of watching you turn into something I no longer recognize. The only relief I find is in reminding myself that you do not belong to me. But to the Lord. And if ever I have loved you, He has loved you so much more.

Why has my heart grown heavy, you ask? Have I turned my back on you? Have I become less passionate and proud to be a product of your teaching? The truth is that I have not. I still feel the same strong desire to uphold truth and righteousness. To see you thrive, not by the world’s standards, but by God’s. Oh how I long to see you full of people who are truly passionate about loving others. Who lay their lives down so that God may be glorified through them. I long to see you befriending and counseling young women who are struggling to find their place in this world that can often be so cruel to us. I long to find your men teaching other men how to love and give of themselves as Jesus for his church. I long to see you feeding the hungry, being family for the widow and the orphan. I long to see you as excited about preaching the gospel as you are about going out to vote. Actually, no. I long to see you much more excited about things of the word than of this world.

I long for the day when the topic that is most on your tongue is how to share the gospel with others. I long for the passionate posts about your political parties and conspiracy theories to turn to expositions on the letters Paul wrote to the New Testament churches or modern day applications taken from the life and example of Jesus.

I long for the day when fighting for Biblical justice is okay and covers a wide range of people-even those who don’t look or think like you. When you can pray for and love your brother or sister who thinks that the fight should look one way when you see it another. I long for the day when older generations, rather than writing off the younger members and praying for us to come back to our roots would open their eyes and see that, dear AC, as much as we love you, we love Jesus more. We are his disciples, not yours.

You see AC, I have been reading my Bible a lot these past few years. Our God has brought me through so many things that I told him I didn’t want to have to experience. But he has been teaching me more and more of who he is. And who I am in Him. And dear AC, as I grow and learn, I long for you to grow and learn with me. I know you are much older than me. Your wisdom through the years is something to be respected and admired. But dear, sweet friend- I must confess that you have strayed from your primary purpose. Your heart, rather than beating to the tune of a praise song for the Lord more often resembles the tune of our National Anthem. In your sanctuary sits an American flag in plain sight for anyone to see. Yet there is no globe, no world map to show that our God is the God of every nation. We think of many other nations with an attitude of disdain or the belief that our country is greater and better. Forgetting that within the borders of these ‘foreign’ places resides the bride of Christ, the Universal Church. Which is just as dear and loved by him as any American ever could be.

Your members are radical. Radical in their political doctrine. They praise you and slander members of the ‘other party’ with the same tongue. They march for life and slander those who do not, yet criticize those who speak out for justice and racial reconciliation as being ‘divisive, brainwashed, weak’. My dear AC, how it hurts me to say that while I have no desire to turn my back on you, it often feels as though you have turned your back on me. That you cannot accept a person who is pro-life to both the unborn and born alike, unless I choose to be so within your boundaries and opinions.

Though I may feel hurt and disappointed that our relationship often seems so fragile, I will not stop fighting for you. Not stop loving you and praying that you seek God with all your heart. I believe he may be bringing you, just as he did me, through many hard things yet. But if it be so, please do not forget that He is GOOD. And while your influence over your country may rise and fall, God’s influence over the world does not. Even as you live in fear and worry for the kingdom you may lose, let me encourage you because here outside your borders I see a kingdom that is growing and thriving like never before. One that you are even more a part of than you are of your country or the American Dream kingdom you so tightly hold onto.

I love you, AC. And I hope that you know you will always be important to me. So as you read these words, let them not bring you to anger, indignation, or worry for me and my faith. But let them remind you of a love that is more than agreeing on politics. More than sharing a nationality. A love that brought good tidings of great joy which would be for ALL people. Rich and poor. Free and slave. Democrat and Republican. A love that has not only written a letter, but a collection of poems, songs, stories, and so much more. May my words be a shadow, a reflection of that story. The one that was told long before our country and will be told until long after. Let this be the storyline you are most invested in, most passionate about sharing. And let us be encouraged that this is what we have in common. The greatest love of all.

With Love,

Ashley

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