We carefully study the letters of Peter and Paul in the New Testament because we think here we have something written by the Spirit of the Living God. There we read:
You are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the Living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of the human heart. (2 Corinthians 3:3)Consider carefully what Paul is saying. Not all the epistles written by the Holy Spirit are written with ink; not all of God's words are carved on some stone tablet. It is a perfectly legitimate thing to be inspired by those around us who live by the Spirit of God. It is a perfectly Biblical thing to recognize that the Bible is meant to be lived, and to find inspiration in those who live it. More than that, if we read the Bible rightly it writes on our own hearts, so that we may be living letters from God.
Many of us in the west are Protestants, very much put off by Rome. There's some history of antagonism there, a distrust of all things Roman -- including knowing and honoring the lives of saints. Worse, we may not even recognize that God's word to us may be written in the lives of other followers of Christ, may not acknowledge that the word of God may be written on tablets of the human heart. We miss God's message, the people whose lives are epistles from God, but not written with ink. In every age, there are living epistles of the New Testament. In our quest to follow Jesus, these letters from Christ should not be missing.
I will be posting a few things about the living epistles of the New Testament that have inspired me greatly:
(Note: Updated with links to Tolkien and ten Boom.)