Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I Thessalonians 1:2-5


2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, 4 knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; 5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

I love this part of the letter these guys wrote. It's clear that their love for these new followers of Jesus is deep and genuine.

NOTE the 3 characteristics of the Thessalonians' story. First--WORK OF FAITH or their faith that is characterized by their work. Second--LABOR OF LOVE or their love that is characterized by labor. Third--STEADFASTNESS OF HOPE or their hope that is characterized by steadfastness and steadiness. These 3 characteristics are powerful and certainly represent a balanced lifestyle.

Then they give some of the reason for how the disciples in Thessalonica came to be so faithful, loving and full of hope. NOTE that the "good news" they presented to the Thessalonians was not just a system of doctrines or a listing of beliefs only, but was presented in power, in the Spirit and with full conviction. Then it is pointed out, "you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake."

This is the point of any sort of ministry with people. It is producing a faith that works, a love that labors and a hope that is steadfast. It is the message of the good news of Jesus which always comes in power, in the Spirit and with a full conviction. Jesus is the only message that is transformational. This is the message of revolution. In Acts 17, the leaders who opposed this Jesus movement said that these are the people who have "turned the world upside down."

Have you been watching the news lately? Have you read your newspaper this week? The world is in great turmoil and is in desperate need of being transformed for good. Some are saying this is the beginning of WWIII. Many others are asking, "Is this the end of the world?" The world is imploding and exploding at most every level. Just take the Muslim extremists, for instance, let's say there is a small percentage of them that are motivated by evil. Well, that sounds pretty good to say it that way, but it's easy to miss the point. There are 1.6 billion Muslims. Let's say that 10% is the small percentage of extremists that want all infidels dead--that's you and me. If my math is correct, that comes to about 160 million who are the bad guys who are causing all the trouble. Now, add to that number the extremists from all the other major religious systems and you have a huge boiling cauldron, full of hate and destruction.

Unless the message of Jesus is turned loose in our world in a revolutionary way, we are all in a heap of trouble. I believe the only strategy that has a chance is to make disciples, a few at a time. When you make disciples in this way, they really get it. And when a person catches the truth of Jesus, the spreading movement cannot be stopped! On the other hand, if you continue to gather people together in our mega-churches that are filled with spectators, there will be no Jesus movement--just a monument built in Jesus' name.