Thursday, November 14, 2013

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

The evening had set in, and the dancing flames of the candles flickered in the darkness. Jesus and His disciples reclined around the table, and Judas had already left to do his evil work. In the following few hours, Jesus would be arrested, beaten, and ultimately He would die. He knew this. But as He spoke that night, the disciples treated it like any other night. There was no extra importance on these words. If they had known He was going to die, they would have certainly leaned in and asked Him more probing questions. But that was not the case.
With hours of teaching remaining in His earthly ministry, Jesus became extremely clear in His commands: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” This would be the marking characteristic of a believer: love.
Paul understood this ethic. He knew that loving others was expected and normative in a Christian’s life. In his letter to the Galatians, he said, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” According to Paul, this love should be lived out. It should be the nature of every Christian. We should be lovingly caring for those around us, believer and unbeliever.
At times this perspective is steam-rolled by crass and unruly “proclaimers” of the gospel. Instead of following Paul’s admonition in Ephesians of “speaking the truth in love,” or Peter’s encouragement to share the gospel in “meekness and fear,” (literally gentleness and respect), these edgy and angry Christians celebrate their abrasiveness. This simply is not Christian.
Christianity looks like Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, “But we were gentle among you…being affectionately desirous of you…we were willing to have imparted unto you…our own souls.” This is what true Christianity looks like. That we, like Jesus, be known as self-sacrificial, not self-serving. That we, like Jesus, demonstrate unbridled love for those around us.
So what does your life look like? In the text today, Paul indicates that an effective gospel witness comes from a person who shares their own soul. Evangelism is not a calculated method whereby we follow a formula and reap an outcome. Rather, evangelism is such that we are sharing the gospel as we share our own lives. The exhausted life of Christ can be our example in evangelism: continually He reached out to those who did not yet believe, ultimately He gave His life that all might believe. May we become this kind of love-filled gospel proclaimer.

Food For Thought: Read Leviticus 19:18. What command do we find in this verse from the Law that Jesus later repeats in His ministry?