Sunday, 13 December 2015

Thessalonians Roundup

In Acts 17 we saw how a fledgling church was planted, with characters like Jason soon having to face up to opposition. They survived! Their discipleship had become established enough for the church to not only continue, but themselves to become examples to others. Here are five golden nuggets we have gleaned from this series.

1) God has a purpose for you ... matching who you are

1 Th 5 calls us to be awake, sober and ready ... there is stuff God needs us to do, that comes hand in hand with being appointed to salvation. Each person has a God given purpose - which He has carefully matched to your personality. Recognise your calling, and learn to go with it.

2) Foundations in Jesus, Keep true to those foundations

Our calling is linked to our identity, and we discover who we really are in Jesus. Faith is about an encounter with Jesus (recalled in 1 Th 1), finding our foundations him Him. We then keep true to those foundations - a growth process we call 'discipleship'. We talk about good habits of discipleship, like the Discipline of OFF, Sharing the Walk, and being Ever closer to Jesus.

3) We are Work-in-Progress

In living ever closer to Jesus we become more like him. This is a process the Bible calls 'sanctification' (see 1 Th 4). It takes a lifetime, so we are all work-in-progress. This process enables us to live as a contrast society, being positively different, setting the right atmosphere for others to see.

4) Up/In/Out - we need all 3

The process occurs for each individual, but it happens living in community, a community that radiates outward. 1 Th 3:12 talks of love for each other and everyone else, connecting the 'together' with the 'outward'. Love comes in the first place from God, so we need all 3 components: Up (relationship with God), In (together), and Out (reaching out). Jim Wallis sums it up: "Christian faith is intensely personal, but never private".

5) Our Unity is from being in Christ, sharing the same God given purpose

We are here because of Christ, and he calls people together into community. That mutually agreed shared walk as God's people is what constitutes church - a people who find together common purpose. That will inevitably mean being part of God's plans to reach the area, and so in Ely we are no different in wanting as a church to see Kingdom life break out across the city. Our lives in themselves tell a story of God's grace ('Living Parables').

So Much More!

These two little letters are rich sources of teaching, so there is so much more not covered in this summary! Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to continue even in the adversity, a call to Stand Firm. That ability to keep going is dependant on our discipleship, walking with others with God's mission heart, i.e. learning to live as 'Missional Communities'.

Next year we look at Jesus the Discipler to further explore the concept of discipleship, being discipled so that we too can disciple others.

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