1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed— God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
The Church as a Family
When God brings you to himself through Christ, he brings you into a family. The church is to function as a family with family dynamics as we grow into spiritual health and maturity.
Why don’t we live and function like a family?
*Part of this generation’s dysfunction with relationship is that as opposed to other generations, people have an expectation of others putting them first. This was not the case in other generations. In our stunted culture, people gravitate to those relationships that will make them center focus and move on from those relationships that do not. This is not the design of God (Jesus leaving the 99 to get the one, the command to honor others above yourself, If you exalt yourself you’ll be humbled, people gathering around them those who tell them what their itching ears want to hear, etc.)
When allowed to go on like this, relationships develop co-dependent tendencies.
v. 8 - “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”
For relationships to be healthy and fruitful, they have to be more than one-sided. Take an interest in others beyond what immediately concerns you. Hear the stories of others to earn the right to tell yours.
There are multiple familial terms represented in the Thessalonians passage - mother and children, brothers and fathers. As you continue to grow in Christ, there should always be three relationships that are developing in your life:
Mother/Father - who is someone that is mentoring you, helping to you mature in the things of God?
Brothers - who is someone that is a peer to you that is helping to push you further in the things of God? Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Children - who is someone that YOU are helping to disciple, helping to raise in the things of God (i.e. investing in them by teaching them the Purple Book)?
Those trying to figure out their calling in God, let's find a place for you in and through this community of faith. As you make decisions about what you'll do and where you'll be in the coming years...We need people in Chicago. We need people in the mission field.
“For any team, if you don’t fight for community, it won’t happen. Community is the intentional pursuit of being intertwined in each other’s stories. It’s being a part of the highs and the lows together, being hope for each other, having fun together, working together, encouraging one another, helping each other grow and calling out the gold in one another.” - Paul McClure
The atoning work of Jesus Christ made this possible for us. When he sacrificed himself on the cross for the forgiveness our sins, his blood was spilled to cleanse us, draw us near to God the Father and make us one family. Through his resurrection from the dead he offers us not only eternal life, but a new life of relational dynamics different from the dysfunction from whence we sprang.
The Church as a Force
1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last! But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.
This is not anti-Semitism. Jesus was of Jewish lineage. The majority of the earliest Jewish believers were Jewish in Judea that the Thessalonians were now imitating.
*Being of Jewish lineage himself, Paul thought the opposition to the gospel particularly grievous because the commission of Israel has always been to be a blessing to the nations (Genesis 12) through the spread of the knowledge of the one true God revealed through his Son, Jesus, the promised Messiah. Reflecting the pattern initiated with Israel, Paul understood God’s heart that the church was to be an agent of revelation and reconciliation for the world - a force for the gospel (Exodus, Isaiah 49).
Recognizing the Voice (of God) in the Invitation
Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.
Encounters with the living God in dreams, visions, burning bushes and prophetic words do occur. However, you are called into the work of God through daily circumstance and human interaction (think the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37).
“We are always falling in love or quarreling, looking for jobs or fearing to lose them, getting ill and recovering, following public affairs. If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.” - C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Christ-centered community should intentionally lead to impacting the culture together with the gospel. Community is not an end in and of itself.
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Anyone who loves his father or mother more...
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Second City Church - The Macedonian Call - Pastor Rollan Fisher 2018