The epistles of God: Religion column
Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 26, 2018
By Fr.Jonathan J.Filkins
Anyone, who spent some time in Sunday School has been introduced to the Epistles of the Holy Bible. Forming the majority of the Holy Bible’s New Testament, they reach across the ages to inform and instruct all Christian believers.
Each author is writing to a particular audience. For some, they are being written to convert the unbelievers. To others, they being written to particular churches in the Early Church. Regardless of the content they, along with the Gospels, provide the bedrock for Christian belief
What is unfamiliar to our ears is the style of the Epistles, as they were written as letters to their recipients and followed the formal style of the time. Saint Paul, the most prolific contributor to the New Testament, began each Epistle,” Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” He then went on with, “grace be to you and peace from God, our Father…” Such was the practice, back in the day of true snail mail.
Certainly, epistles are not limited to Christianity alone. Untold numbers of lengthy letters have been purported to be the “real’ truths; to be followed with a religious fervor. As examples, Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kompf,” written by him while in prison, served as the “bible” for Nazi socialism. Karl Marx, in writing the “Communist Manifesto,” provided a fertile ground for rebellion against the Russian Czar.
Each of these social epistles caused the death of millions upon millions; with the shadows of their presence still in evidence today. Their impact on our humanity has scarred many generations and only history shall tell of the full eradication of their ideals,
However, many other epistles have been written and still others have yet to be writ. The eradication of the Nazi and Communist regimes came at the better epistles of our human and Godly natures. As we acknowledge the Epistles of the Holy Bible have brought much of humanity through the darkness of despair, we must acknowledge the fight of those who have, and do, hold themselves up to what they convey. While Holy Scripture is written for all of us, we write our own individual epistles in our brief time on earth and in our relationships with God. Each of us are unique in our own ways; and our lives, for both good and ill, are our own. What then is the current composition of the “Letter of Life in our hearts?”
Consider, we often find ourselves writing an epistle for the world, rather than writing an Epistle for God. Each of us has such communiqués, developed deep in our souls even though, through Jesus Christ, we are called to follow Him and his teachings for us. Saint Paul followed instructions in his ministry, in spite of his proclivity to be contentious. His rabid persecution of the early Christians is well known. Only after he received Christ, in his heart, did the new epistle of his life begin and, for which, we have the canonical Epistles of his conversion in Holy Scripture.
We too can receive, and revive, the message of the Christ within, as we start to “edit” our personal epistles towards God and His Son. The first acknowledgement is to allow the Holy Spirit to move through us and commit to writing our personal letters to God.