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I would like to share with you an imaginary letter from the pen of the apostle Paul.

If Paul were to write a letter to the church at Mabelvale what might he say? Some of what follows will be Paul’s words framed in my own thoughts. It will not appear in quotation marks. Some of it will be direct Scripture quotations to furnish the needed thoughts. If Paul could speak to a congregation he had never seen, as he did with Rome, he could certainly address the church at Mabelvale.

For many years I have longed to see you “that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Romans 1:12).

Our mutual admiration notwithstanding, I have a few things to say to you.

Continue in My Plea for Unity
When a congregation is as God intends, it knows neither disunion or dissension.
I am told that within the area of Little Rock are many congregations of the saints.
Not all of them stand fast and hold the traditions which they were taught (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
My words to the Corinthian church are just as pertinent today as when I wrote them long ago: “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Just as Moses, God’s servant, commanded Joshua of old, in Joshua 1:7, don’t ever turn to the “left hand” of liberalism, even if other congregations do. Also, avoid the “right hand” of conservatism, and do not tolerate those who would force their opinions upon you. Seek balance in all of God’s work for the church! Don’t be a cake half turned, or a congregation known only for one aspect of effective service. Like the church at Jerusalem, teach, evangelize at home and abroad, “condescend to men of low estate” in benevolence, and edify one another in your assemblies. Not only do these things, but do them in the framework of “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
 I commend you for being a racially mixed congregation. Segregation is not part of the body of Christ! I remind you, as I said at Athens, “And he (God) has made of one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth…” (Acts 17:26). And to the churches of Galatia, I wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
Shame on those brethren who still breathe more the spirit of Jim Crow than the spirit of Jesus Christ. Their words will betray them and their heart will condemn them.

Let Love Abide!
As I did with the church at Corinth, so I remind you that, of the powers of faith, hope and love, love is the greatest! (1 Corinthians 13:13). Remember that “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV).
Do not allow petty differences to produce ill will among you: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ also forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).
Genuine love will show itself in how you greet outsiders who come into your assemblies.
If there are hostility and negative feelings they cannot be hidden behind the finest furniture or the fanciest architecture. On the other hand, if openness, friendliness and love are real, it cannot be dimmed with the plainest and humblest of houses in which to worship!

Keep Yourselves from the World
Keep alive the spiritual principles of Christ at a time when popularity disregards them.
Many Christians in America give ultimate allegiance to man-made systems, customs and pleasures. They do not allow the Lord to direct their hearts into the love of God and the patience of Christ (2 Thessalonians 3:5). They are convinced of a set of propositions, but are not converted to Jesus! They would rather travel, party or sit at home than to assemble with the saints more than once a week. They need to change; they need to repent; they need to strengthen the body there!
As I have said before to the church at Rome, so say I to you: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). And, as I wrote to the Colossians, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).

Blanket The Earth with the Gospel
Please, do not forget that “…it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).
And even as one of your well known preachers has said, “Remember, in talking of church growth, the elevator goes both ways. Not only is beautiful and solid growth possible. Congregations once strong can become weak, and for that weakness the pulpit has to accept some responsibility.”[i]

I have never heard of a “pulpit,” but would simply say, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).
“I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren” (1 Thessalonians 5:27).
“But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).
“And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16).
“Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11).

[1] Ira North, Balance: A Tried & Tested Formula for Church Growth (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Company, 1983), 13.