Monday 24 November 2014

Bible Book:
1 Thessalonians

“We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (vv. 2-3)

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 Monday 24 November 2014

Psalm: Psalm 65


Do you remember anything from 1994? 1 Thessalonians is widelyregarded as the earliest extant Christian text, probably written byPaul from Corinth less than twenty years after the death of Jesus.So, today's reader becomes very closely connected with those earlybelievers and might even capture their sparkle of excitement andrisk. It is interesting that the first Christian document is aletter (the first of many) suggesting, perhaps, that Christianfaith is passed on rather than taught, something to be shared withfriends in the same way as many may even now be preparing to sharefamily news in the annual Christmas letter! As for Paul thinkingabout his beloved Thessalonians, a letter, or an email or a textmessage, offers a kind of presence in a situation of physicalabsence.

Paul was writing to a congregation in ancient Thessalonica,founded in 316BC on the site of an older city. Its position on theVia Egnatia gave it great commercial and strategic significance. InPaul's time it was the capital of Macedonia, and today it remainsthe second largest city in Greece. Paul had spent at least threeweeks there on his travels (Acts17:1-13), a visit marked, as so often, by controversy andsudden flight! The letter was an important follow-up communicationto encourage and exhort these young-in-the-faith Christians. Paulhas a gospel to proclaim!

Faith, love and hope (verse 2) are often found together inPaul's writing - there is a suggestion here that they are notmerely Christian virtues, but rather the 'badges of belonging' tothis new, radical, exciting movement. Throughout the letter, Paulwas helping these believers to see that they were emerging into anew community, a "chosen" people (even a sort of 'in-crowd'?)(verse 4) to whom God has been made known (verse 5), who havesuffered together (verse 6) and become an example to others (verses7-9). Together, this group is waiting for the reign of Christ(verse 10) which identifies the people of Christ.

To Ponder

  • How prominently do you wear the Christian 'badges of belonging'of faith, love and hope?
  • In what ways might it be helpful - or unhelpful - to think ofthe Christian community as an 'in-crowd'?
  • Use Psalm 65, with its imagery of God presidingover a court, to reflect on the 'Reign of Christ' and what thatmight mean to you today. 
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