Saturday, October 21, 2017

2017-10-21 [Month of Mission 2017] Examples of the Kingdom#6 -- A transformed community

Examples of the Kingdom#6 -- A transformed community

We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. 3 We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia--your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead--Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.      (1Thessalonians1:2-10)
The theory of this particular letter is that it was the first letter Paul wrote to any of the early churches. Theory, of course, because we can't know for sure. Which would make it one of the earliest writings, because as we know the gospels were only written much later, after the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Upon reading this first chapter I thought to myself what complimentary words Paul uses for this church at Thessalonica. Wouldn't it be an amazing thing to receive such a commendation from a Christian that the church views with such high regard. Imagine receiving this letter in your local session; complimenting you on your faith, good deeds, love, endurance, and how you were known throughout your region for your witness.

The other thing that struck me was Paul speaks about how the community of Thessalonica received the message "for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with joy". Despite the people living in suffering they were able to not only hear the good news, but be transformed it.

The primary goal of God's Kingdom is to bring transformation, there should be no way you can encounter the gospel message and be able to remain the same. But, transformation is not a one time event, it must be dynamic and constant. Perhaps the message of the gospel in the reformer Martin Luther's time had become stagnant and inward looking?

As part of the reformed tradition, we are committed to continuous transformation. Are we still dynamic or have we become stuck in our ways? Does the 'church' need another Reformation?
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Melanie Cook, wife to Gordon, mother to Joshua and Rebecca, and minister of St Giles Presbyterian, Norwood. In the business of moving the church...sometimes spiritually, sometimes physically.





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