DOING LIFE TOGETHER

DOING LIFE TOGETHER

Paul’s Ministry in Thessalonica

2 You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. 2 We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.
As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, 7 but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. 8 We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. 9 Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

Paul’s visit to Thessalonica was not without difficulty. There were Jews endeavouring to portray them (Paul, Silas and Timothy) as deluded invididuals there to trick the Thessalonias. The background is clear that if the reputation of the messengers can be damaged, then their message would be less likely to be trusted.

Yet Paul and his friends persevere, encouraging the Thessalonians to realize that despite the opposition, their visit was not a failure (literally, ’empty’ or ‘hollow’). They persevered, and spent time in a new city sharing the true gospel of Jesus Christ with the Thessalonians despite the opposition.

A key verse comes through in verse 8:

“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you had beome so dear to us”.

This, right here, is the key to ministry: That our love for others would inspire us to not only share the message of Christ’s redemptive power with them, but in fact, to do life together. That is what community is all about. That is what the church of Christ is all about: sharing our lives with one another.

The tragedy of the lost swings to both sides of the pendulum. On one side we have many people selfishly oblivious to the lost state of millions of people around the world, people who have not had the opportunity to respond to the message of God’s love for God’s people. We don’t care. Afterall, we’re saved, and that’s all that really matters.

On the other side, we have churches full of people whose soul purpose is the salvation of a person. If said person rejects salvation, people move on. They don’t maintain a relationship.

Paul goes against that, teaching that the true gospel is communicated through the sharing of life together.

A CALL TO ACTION

How successful are you at sharing your life with others, because of the love you have for them? Both believers and pre-believers need relationship, need community. That is how God has wired us – to enjoy relationship with one another. Often it’s very easy, particularly for those in leadership positions, to teach from the pulpit or lead in a cell group or speak in front of a class room while not actually caring for those among us.

Today is another opportunity to examine yourself: pay attention to the encounters you have with people today. Are you opening yourself up to them? Are you making yourself approachable? Are you inviting them to share not only in the gospel, but in your life as well? For this is God’s desire for you and me!

A PRAYER TO PRAY

Lord, thank you that You set yet another perfect example by sharing your life with us. We read in the Gospels how you did life with people, eating together, going fishing together, doing life together. Help me to look beyond my close circle of friends to a wider family that I need to be doing life with. Help me to be more accepting, approachable and loving toward the people around me. For your glory, amen.

Rev Mark Paul serves as the Campus pastor at the Hatfield Campus, and the Worship Pastor at the Moreleta Campus of Eastside Community Church, Pretoria. Mark has a passion to help young people discover their identity in Christ, and become vessels of God’s grace in a broken world.

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