The loving God says I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. (Jeremiah 31:3, ESV). But, does God still love us? Do words of love die out?
In 1995, I heard the mailman drop off mail to the complex from my basement apartment in the Middle East. The sound excited me as the letter written about 3-4 weeks ago would now evidence a response from my fiancée. We both wrote our thoughts and intents on paper and placed them into the mail systems. The process took four weeks from the Middle East to America. We often made notes to try remembering what questions we asked previously. Each letter was re-read numerous times, each letter treasured and, in the future, stored in my mother’s house as we as a married couple traversed the world in ministry. These personal love letters formed the basis for our relationship as we had limited days in a face-to-face interaction but many months of dependence on correspondence.
The mailman arrived, and so did my excitement. These letters represented our love and desire to dwell together in marriage one day. For me, I filled these months of waiting until the big day with the task of finishing off language requirements by day and dreaming of our life together by night. This hopeful expectation focused on our relationship, our future dwelling together in marriage.
At the same time, I often bought an English newspaper. I enjoyed reading about politics, sports, economics, and cultural articles. After reading this, the paper was trashed or used to soak up a spill or temporarily used for some menial task. Its use was over. The newspaper was not religious in its composition, but the personal, intimate correspondence as a genre relates to the human heart.
If our marriage’s love letters are read, treasured, and valued today, this affection demonstrates value. Like God’s Word, they are never cast aside and never canceled nor vanish from our relationship. Why could his words be irrelevant to us today? Why would his Words disappear from our relationship? On the contrary, his divine-inspired love letters are more relevant than ever. God’s Word speaks of our relationship and here-and-now dwelling together. Daily reading and meditating on them touch my affections and guide living His will for each day.
I often hear the later-greater theory when encouraging my Middle Eastern friends to read the Bible. Discussions about the Bible are typically greeted with – Oh, I respect and reverence all the books Allah has given. The book of Moses, David, and the Injil (New Testament) of Jesus. But now we have the final revelation in the Quran. Despite never having read the Bible, they dismiss the book on the later-greater theory. Fear stifles even their willingness to read these past divine books. This later-greater theory teaches the abrogation of past books. Their current ideas abrogate the former books, cultivating an understanding that they are useless to their present faith; thus, they refuse to read them. However, at the same time, they place other non-heavenly books above Scripture, like al-Tabari’s History and Ibn Katheer’s Stories of the Prophets. These historical writings survey biblical stories and give each one an Islamic bent.
Their perspective redefines respect and reverence. If I were a guest and the host said he respected and admired me but did not listen to me, nor even let me speak, I would have misgivings with the host’s affirming words. Similarly, their profound respect for their book and prophet motivates them. For them, the latest order is all they value and grant consideration. Yet they prohibit their former books from speaking, abrogating them so that Muslims will not read them. As a host to their former revealed books, Islam offers only disrespect to these guests, granting no influencing seat of honor but expecting silence.
My mind goes to the words of Lord Jesus in which he stresses the Word of God will not pass away, never placed aside. God’s Word is relevant today and will continue to be a daily source of comfort and direction. Even those who teach that God’s Word is irrelevant need to heed the words of our Lord: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19, ESV).
Yes, let’s treasure and respect God’s Love Letters. Let them speak to each of us today!