(Yes, a day late. I’m a day behind right now)
1 Thessalonians 1; Isaiah 11-13; Psalm 112
So much of the New Testament consists of letters written by Paul to churches. What would Paul write about your church? If he were to write about you as a member of that church, how would he describe you? As Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, he began by describing the church and the members. “And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7) While it’s a simple description of the church, those words say so much. They didn’t receive the gospel because of the promise of wealth, riches and a better life now; they received the gospel in the midst of affliction and still became followers of the Lord. They followed so closely that other believers saw them as examples of living for Christ. Paul had a way of complimenting a church, when possible, in a sincere way that highlighted their strengths. Did the Thessalonians have troubles, of course! Most of those letters that Paul wrote were to churches in trouble, or at least with theological difficulties. In the midst of their troubles though, they were an inspiration to others. Too often we look at our churches as either the greatest church of all time with no troubles at all, which is guaranteed to be false; or a church that has nothing but troubles and for which there is no hope, which is also false. Our churches are made up of sinful human beings. As has been quoted by many people, “I could never join a perfect church; as soon as I joined it, it would be imperfect.” No church is perfect, yet all churches have reasons for being placed where they are in the world. No church is so bad that God can’t use it, if the people repent. So perhaps the question isn’t “What would Paul write about my church?” but “What would I want Paul to write about my church?” That last question should compel us to act like the church we want to be.
Dear Lord, my church isn’t what it should be. The people who are members are sinners, especially me. The people who are members are weak in faith, especially me. For my church to be the church You want it to be, the change needs to begin in me. Take me just as I am and mold me to be the man You called me to be and the man my church needs to be for it to grow in grace.