Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Thoughts on 1 Thessalonians

One member of our church recently shared with our home congregation a beneficial method of reading large passages of Scripture. He reads a large passage (around 5 chapters or so) daily for 30 days so that he is really digging into the passage. It is kind of the middle ground between a program like reading through the Bible in a year, and Scripture meditation which is typically small passages. You get the benefits of depth and insight through meditation, while covering a lot of ground like in the daily Bible reading programs. I recently started doing this and have been reading 1 and 2 Thessalonians daily for the last 15 days. It has been really great, so I thought I would start posting some of my observations on these books.

In the first couple of chapters Paul is encouraging the believers in Thessalonica who are under significant persecution. Paul's love for this church is overflowing though he was only with them for a short time before he was forced to leave for Berea. How could these deep bonds be made in such a short time? The simple answer is that Paul strove to be as Christlike as possible. He wanted to exemplify Christ's love for the church in his own life.

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

Paul loved what Christ loved.... the church. What about you and I? Do we love the church the way Christ and Paul did? If we don't, we should. In fact, if we are believers then we were predestined to be more like Christ. This likeness includes love for His church.

Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.

Paul says in 1 Thess 2:8 that he was not only striving to impart the gospel to them, but also his life. Conform yourself to Christ and imitate Paul by pouring your life into the members of your congregation. Like most aspects of the gospel this message is counter-cultural. Our culture is about individualism and leisure. The gospel is about denying ourselves for the sake of loving God and our neighbors.


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