1 Thessalonians 1-2
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3; 2:7-8,11,20
My love for coffee often puts me in coffee shops, both local and chains. Recently I was in a coffee shop and was very much looking forward to my coffee. I was able to order my coffee, I received my coffee, and the coffee tasted wonderful. I even received my needed afternoon buzz of caffeine. From that description you are likely to think that my experience was a good one. But it wasn’t. The functions that should take place in a coffee shop happen – I was able to order and receive some well made coffee. There is only one problem. On this particular day the baristas forgot that to connect with your customers well you need to have more than good functions, you need to create good feelings. Now before you think I’ve gone all “touchy feely and emotional” on you this morning, hear me out.
We can do the same thing as Christians. We can be tempted to do ministry, lead a small group, greet people, interact with people, or other things with the goal of simply doing them and not connecting with the people. People are our mission. This means that sometimes all of the “functions” of ministry won’t get done, or at least not in the timing we wish. People were the mission for Paul. In these two chapters today we see clearly that Paul formed a strong bond with the Thessalonians. He placed an emphasis on loving others and boldly sharing the gospel. His love and care for the Thessalonians is crystal clear, especially in the highlighted verses that I list above. Paul is thankful for them, constantly mentioning them in his prayers (1:2). Paul remembers them, their world of faith and labors of love and steadfast hope in Jesus (1:2). They did not share the gospel with words of flattery or greed but came with the gentleness that a mother has for a newborn baby (2:5-6). Paul was affectionally desirous of them (2:8). Paul was ready to share not just the gospel message, but his very life with them (2:8). The Thessalonians became very dear to him (2:8). Paul loved and cared for them like a father cares for his children (2:11). They had to leave abruptly but have a strong desire to see them again (2:17). Paul goes so far as to say the Thessalonians are his “glory and joy” (2:20).
We are to live in such a way that our words and actions draw people to God’s grace and transforming love. We can’t do that if we only accomplish the functions of ministry and leave behind the feelings. We can’t abandon the touch when doing the task. People are the mission.
Are you more inclined to focus on function or feeling, touch or task? Do you express gentleness towards others because you want to love and listen to them or show harshness because you want to accomplish the task?
Something that might be helpful today would be to list out the ways that Paul loves the Thessalonians from these first two chapters and to ask yourself if you have these characteristics. Ask God to help you develop the characteristics you lack.
1 Thessalonians 3-5