Wednesday 06 December 2023

Bible Book:
1 Thessalonians

As we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we please God. (v. 4)

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 Wednesday 6 December 2023

Psalm 34:11-22


In today's reading from his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul returns to the initial, successful mission that he and his two fellow apostles conducted in Thessalonica – which came hotfoot from the gratuitous violence they had suffered in Philippi. Paul needs to remind the congregation of three key features of their mission.

  1. Their authority as apostles of Christ was God-given. God had tried and tested the hearts of the three evangelists (Paul, Silvanus and Timothy), referring to their understanding, stability, trustworthiness and motivation. On that basis, God had entrusted them with the gospel message. They were emboldened by God’s affirmation to proclaim the gospel freely in Thessalonica; they were not anxious or afraid in light of what had happened in Philippi.
  2. The three evangelists advocated the gospel with integrity and distanced themselves as far as possible from the many contemporary charlatans who bewitched the Thessalonian public. They presented the gospel without deception, without deploying pornography to attract hearers, and without trickery. Personal greed was not part of their agenda. They did not flatter people, nor say just what people wanted to hear. They did not seek to win plaudits from those who listened (or indeed from converts). Their ambition was only to please God. As always, their loyalty to their vocation and their principled behaviour provoked strong opposition.
  3. The final feature of the three evangelists' mission is the relationship they established with the converts. They could have ‘come on heavy’, in their role as apostles, laying burdens on the congregation. Actually they behaved very tenderly toward them: like a nurse caring for her own children – totally devoted, and indifferent to her own dignity (v. 7). The apostles shared the gospel with the congregation and also gave themselves, heart and soul, to the believers, establishing mutual relationships of deep affection.


To Ponder:

  • From the beginning of the Christian movement, believers have contributed diverse gifts to build the Church and  promote its mission. Not everyone is an evangelist or pioneer missionary. But everyone can develop their own particular ministry with integrity and with an eye to developing among Christian communities a spirit of friendship, deep mutual affection and trust.  If you belong to a church, what more could you contribute to nurturing the ‘spirit’ of your congregation as a gathering of friends who trust one another?
  •  Sometimes we encounter fellow believers who are manifestly power-seekers. Sometimes, without even realising, we ourselves offend by throwing our weight around, refusing to listen to criticism, and claiming to know best because of our experience. Who, or what, best helps you to follow a path of radical humility? How are you able constructively to encounter a member of the congregation who belittles others, or bullies them into agreement?

As well as 'Word in Time', the Methodist Church is running daily email Advent reflections as part of its 'Out of the Ordinary' campaign. If you would like  to sign up for them, click here.

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