David began a new series today on the book of 1 Thessalonians which, among other things, highlights some characteristics of a true Christian, e.g. gospel living, knowing God’s purpose for our lives, what the future holds in light of Jesus’ second coming.
Three core gospel beliefs repeated by the Apostle Paul in this letter are frequently affirmed in many Christian churches today:
Many ask when Christ will return and the simple answer is ‘SOON’. The question is, ‘What should we be doing as we wait for Christ to come again … while living in-between?
Identity and place of residence
At the outset Paul addressed the identity and spiritual geography of the Thessalonian believers, who were facing suffering and persecution. As Christians living in a hostile society their spiritual home and ultimate destination was “in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We also live in a world that is hostile towards God yet ought not lose sight of who we are, of the ultimate safety and security of being in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
On the receiving end
To be on the receiving end of the grace and peace of God was a game changer for the Thessalonians.
If you have lost sight of or forgotten God’s grace in your life, allow it to awaken or reawaken your awareness of his extreme and unmerited generosity towards you today.
The result of grace brings peace with God, and this peace goes beyond personal conflict to bring an inner wholeness or completeness that passes all human understanding.
Do you know God’s grace and peace in your life today?
Paul’s use of the word “We” highlights how these were regular corporate rhythms within the church. Constant gratitude for each other should be our regular practice – not for the odd person whom you might be friends with – for every individual in the church … “All of you.”
Likewise, praying for others in the church should be the default setting for Christians and challenges us to make praying with and for others part of our daily / weekly routines this year.
Distinguishing marks of true Christians
In V.3 Paul reminds the Thessalonian believers how their reputation has marked them out and he will go on in the following verses to say how they have been exemplars for other churches.
Every Christian is (or should be) a believer, a lover and a hoper – and these 3 are sure evidence/s that we belong to God and are following Jesus (John Stott)
David challenged us to consider our reputation, both as individuals and as a church, and to ask if these hallmarks are visibly evident in our church life and in our personal lives:
- Your work produced by faith – true faith produces acts of kindness that are visible to others
- Your labour prompted by love – true love is demonstrated by tangible acts of kindness
- Your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ – true hope, even in the face of suffering, hostility and persecution, holds fast to the expectation of Jesus’ return
- Be aware of your identity in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
- Be receptive to God’s peace and grace
- Be a believer, a lover and a hoper