Thursday 03 December 2020

Bible Book:
1 Thessalonians

You are witnesses (v. 10)

1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 Thursday 3 December 2020

Psalm 36.5-12


As Paul continues to defend his reputation as a Christian leader, we might be tempted to think he is laying it on a bit thick. He talks about his behaviour as "pure, upright and blameless" (v. 10), a pretty strong claim. But we are very conscious, in our own context, of how easily religious leadership can become a cloak for the abuse of power and the exploitation of the vulnerable. All Churches have had to come to terms with the fact that their history includes such shameful failures, and to admit the temptation to hide them away in order to preserve the institution’s reputation.

For Paul, transparency is an important Christian virtue – especially for a leader. He invites the Thessalonian Christians to look closely at his actions and then to bear witness to the way that he has conducted himself among them. His personal integrity as a leader is, so Paul believes, a sign that God is at work in and through his ministry.

In the Methodist tradition there is an emphasis on holiness, on allowing ourselves to become totally taken over by the goodness and love of God. That emphasis can descend into a ‘holier than thou’ sense of spiritual superiority. But that is not what Paul – or Methodism – teaches. We are invited to live in such a way that it is Christ who lives through us.

To Ponder:

  • How have you reacted to stories of failure and abuse in Christian leadership?
  • Who represents for you an example of Christian holiness?



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