Ken Rudge, St. Austell, England
‘I commend unto you Phoebe our sister, which is a servant of the church’, Rom. 16. 1. Demetrius hath a good report of all men . . . we also bear record’, 3 John 12.
Just before their wedding day the young couple came asking for a letter of commendation that they could take on their honeymoon and present to the assembly to which they would be going for the first time as man and wife.
Delighted with such a task I gave my mind to it and passed on to them a letter addressed to the believers in that area and this they were glad to take with them. The wedding day over, they travelled up country, and the next morning set off in good time to find the Lord’s people. They had already researched where the building was and finding it looked forward to meeting different believers and to remember the Lord with them as man and wife.
A week later they were back and after saying that they had had a delightful week they handed me back the letter of commendation saying that the brother at the door had told them it was unnecessary there and they would not read it. His stated reason was that all who came were welcome to ‘break bread’ as before God and no introduction as to suitability was asked of anyone now.
I re-examined what had been written in the letter because I was sure I had never ever commended anyone to the Breaking of Bread but only as believers to fellow believers. I was glad to see that in this one also nothing was mentioned about the Breaking of Bread meeting.
I pondered as to what else had been referred to in the letter that this company of believers would have failed to hear because of not being allowed to have the letter read that had been addressed to them. We had expressed our common joy with them in our blessed Lord Jesus, and how delighted we were in such a Saviour and thrilled that a link was being made between us, unknown to each other, but loving the same Lord. So they remained ignorant of the love we have for them in the Lord, . . . sad that.
The letter went on to express our appreciation of this young couple in their devotedness to Christ and fervent desires to serve Him in their lives and how valued they were in the assembly. I suppose I wasn’t too unhappy that the assembly visited didn’t hear these comments but I felt it would have been such an encouragement to the young couple to know how we valued them in the Lord. If they didn’t hear it then we have made sure that they have heard it since!
Then there was the simple request that if they could be of help to this young couple while they were in their area seeking a brief holiday then we would be so grateful if they would. Obviously our request was written in vain seeing that the letter wasn’t read to the believers.
So the letter was untouched by those to whom it was addressed, thrown aside by those who deemed it unnecessary for them to read it as I would a piece of junk mail. Was theirs or ours the greater loss?
I am happy to agree that some such letters are of little worth but that only reflects our inept use of them not the obvious value God puts upon them. So many happy examples in scripture encourage us to write them for the blessing they are and can be if used spiritually. But they do need to be welcomed and read by the assemblies to whom they are sent! What also is of great importance in this matter is that we are worthy of the commendation from our fellow believers that these letters bear. To be of real value we need to fully enjoy the fellowship the letter allows us and to thank God for those that love the Lord as we do.
This magazine brings us to the conclusion of the centre pull out studies by Tom Bentley on the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians. It has been a careful and encouraging part of the magazine for some time now and this final section handles some difficult matters skilfully and sympathetically. We do thank our brother for his faithful ministry for the magazine. The Keynote article takes up the challenge of ‘caring’ in assembly life and grapples with some of the practicalities that we need to address to fulfil a compassionate ministry to others. ‘Insurance’ is a familiar word to us all and so needful in our modern society. We are so grateful to Robert Greenman, who after a lifetime in the business has written such a practical guide to making sure we are properly covered for the needs of the work of the Lord. We are pleased to welcome Drew Craig and Ian Affleck as new writers of articles for the magazine this time. I do hope you enjoy this edition and that the Lord will honour it for His own glory.