—Treasure Beyond Measure

A Letter to Mary

This is a copy of a personal letter I sent to someone who wrote to me and said, "I believe in God, but religion is confusing." The person was not really named Mary, but other than that the letter is genuine. I was pleased with how it came out and thought that the letter may bless others who might read it, so I have included it at

Hi Mary:

I was sure glad to get your card. It's nice to hear from you, as well as, hear about you. My parents talk about you a lot, and always have such good things to say. They love you and tell me you are loving, kind, thoughtful, intelligent, and hard working. Well, to hear such a good report always makes my heart glad. Glad for you, glad for my parents, and also glad for your mom. I have always loved your mom and I am sure your fine character pleases her as well as God. You said in your note that you believe in God and that religion is confusing. I must agree completely. I do not believe that Jesus is a religious person. He never walked in the traditions of the popular religion of the day. He walked in reality. Jesus followed God and not religious customs.

In my opinion, all religions center on how a person can approach God. They have rules that must be obeyed and customs that must be followed and basically all deal with the question: "How can I make myself acceptable to God?" Well, you can't make yourself acceptable to God. It is impossible for any person to earn acceptance from God. I will explain this shortly.

Let me briefly explain what true religion is. The Bible is a revelation from God that tells us what we could never find out for ourselves. It tells us where we came from and for what purpose. God wanted children for himself. Children he could enjoy and dote over showering them with his love and giving them present after present. Children who could love him and who could relate to him. So the Bible tells us that God made man in his exact image and likeness. Man was created to be like God, not in power, but in his heart having the same capacity to love.

God's plan from the beginning, (even before he created the earth), was for us to see what life separated from him is like, and then us choosing to be united to him in love through Jesus Christ. The Bible frequently compares this union, God-to-us, to the union of a man and woman, husband-to-wife (See Ephesians 5:25-33).We choose a wife because we want to be united to her, and this union is life long and is one of love. God is wooing us with his love talk, down deep inside our hearts. Those who respond to his quiet call, he joins to himself through Jesus.

People frequently want to see physical evidence of God, but this is not God's way. He doesn't want to threaten or frighten us into union with him. What kind of love-marriage would that be? God through Jesus Christ fully revealed himself so that we could see him and fall in love with him. I am very serious about this. God is courting you with the intent of having you come to him, with open arms, willing and eager to please the one you have come to love. And he is waiting patiently, hoping you will respond and come, and he will pour into you what your heart truly desires, love, peace, joy, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, patience and control over yourself (See Galatians 5:22-23).

The Bible calls Satan, 'the god of this world.' (See 2 Corinthians 4:4, and Ephesians 2:2). Even though the world is exactly where God said it would be, he is not its Father. When mankind separated themselves from God they were united to another Satan. Satan is the god of self-centeredness. "What's in it for me"; calls the world. Love says: "What can I do for you?" The world and God are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Man stands in the middle and must make a choice. As for me, I choose God. I choose to be obedient to Love. The world has only two things I want, people to love, and the creation to marvel at.

The choice is simple; selfishness or selflessness; a self-centered, or God-centered existence. God has promised to those who desire to be conformed into his likeness, those in Christ Jesus, the power and ability to do so. To those people who will take God at his word and accept what God said concerning our state of separation and his salvation which he brought about in Jesus Christ, he gives his Holy Spirit, who comes to live in our hearts. This is a real thing God in us. (See Colossians 1:27). The evidence that all this is true comes from within our hearts from God's Spirit.

The scriptures plainly tell us that the world thinks that this is absurd, (See 1 Corinthians 1:18-Corinthians 2:16), but we who have hoped that God's promises are true, and have acted on that hope, and have received his Spirit into our hearts, know that it is true. Praise God! This is really what faith is, believing God will make good his promises (See Hebrews 11:6). This faith comes after we have acted on the hope that we got from God; hope which sprang from our hearts as we hear from God through the scriptures and from his small voice within us. Faith is not believing what we don't understand, it's believing what we do understand; God's promises. Faith is believing what we can see with our heart.

Is what God is asking of us so difficult? Is it unreasonable of God to expect us to walk in love, especially since he is Love and he gives us to power to do so?

1 John 4:13-17

We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. (NIV84)

First we have hope, then if we respond to hope we get faith, then God fills us with love. God has done his part, Jesus paid the price for our salvation, God has raised him from the dead, defeating death and paving the way to life for us. We, when we hear the message, reach out in hope, and God who has been waiting for us to respond, immediately makes good his promise. God wants us to respond. It's the reason he made us in the first place so that he could receive us as sons and daughters of God.

Mary, I share your confusion and probable dislike of religion. God is real and I want to walk in that reality. Christianity should not be thought of as a religion. We go to church not to be made worthy of God, but to share in our joy over what God has done. We support one another, help one another, enjoy one another. God has called all who believe to form one body, the body of Christ (See 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). And he wants us to all to work together, supporting one another, as we seek to be conformed to his image.

So I recommend to you Mary; to read your Bible daily, (especially the New Testament), with the intent to obey and the expectation that God will do. If you haven't already got a good translation, I recommend the New International Version.

Mary, my impression of you is that you want the good things in life. That you want to feel good about yourself. Not everyone is like that, some aren't happy unless they crush the other person. Some want all the power, or prestige, or recognition. People that seek these things are doomed. As loving and kind as God is, there is still the final day of reckoning. The day in which God gathers all who wanted to please him through their thoughts and actions, to himself. Those people who's thoughts and actions demonstrated that they wanted no part of God, will get exactly that, no part of God.

A heart felt, honest, obedience to God is a good thing. God will pour out his blessings to anyone who seeks him in this way. God is not fooled by what we do to impress other people. He wants us to do the right thing out of respect for him to please him. This is honest religion.

Mary, I hope you aren't offended by the directness of this letter. Since I believe all this to be true I would be guilty of lying to you if I said anything else. I am also fully persuaded that following God has only good benefits and no drawbacks--what could you lose?

One last thing: I don't ask you to believe what you don't see or understand. I ask you to seek out God in all honesty and be obedient to what you see that God wants from you. God has promised to make himself known to anyone who seeks him honestly. Oh, I almost forgot, earlier I said that we can't make ourselves acceptable to God and I said I would explain. We do not earn acceptability, how could we? How could we measure up to God? What baby earns acceptability from its parents? The acceptability is just a matter of love and trust between the parents and the child. It is the exact same thing between you and God. He has made you acceptable, if you embrace him in Christ, and snuggle to him, trusting him to care for you. God loves us and wants us to come to him like any child comes to its parents.

I am sending a copy of this letter to your mother. I want to give her a chance to respond to any point that she may disagree with, or she may want to add something.

May you find the source of all peace.

Love Mark


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