1 Thesssalonians 5
2 Thessalonians 2

2 Thessalonians 1

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.  All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.

Paul's tone in this letter is not one of stern rebuke but more a loving course correction.  It is interesting that he does not start this letter with having to state his credentials as an apostle.  In fact you get a sense that he is proud of this community of believers.  And the things he is proud of them for are not necessarily the things that we consider the marks of a good church.  It was not a rich church with lots of buildings.  They did not have social and political influence.  They could not even offer new converts a comofortable, entertaining environment for the whole family.  In fact they were being persecuted for their faith in God.  Yet Paul commends them.  In this first chapter he gives a few reasons for his commendations.

Increasing faith
The understanding of the word increasing is the understanding of being increased beyond what could be expected.  In the middle of the trials and sufferings the faith of the Thessalonian church had grown - it may have been shaken but it was not moved and it continued to grow.  The persecution drove them towards God and not away from Him.  Troubles should increase our dependence on God and not push us away from Him, and when our dependence on Him increases our faith is strengthened.
James 1:2-4 (NIV) 2  Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3  because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Growing love
Jesus tells us that people will know that we are Christians by our love.  It is the sacrificial, others-centered love that is borne out of the Spirit of God working in us.  This kind of love verifies our conversion.

Perseverance is not resignation to how life is, rather it is about hope - a patient and courageous enduring of hard times because of the hope that we have in Christ who will fulfill His promises to us.  It is courage under fire with a firm belief that all things will work out for God's good in our lives.

A Kingdom mindset
Paul commended them for having a God-centered outlook.  They were focused on living out Jesus' command to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.  In fact the joy that they lived with and the perseverance that they demonstrated was because they believed that God was making them worthy of His kingdom - in other words, they looked at the situations as opportunities to be made in the image and likeness of Christ.

So some of the marks of a church God is pleased with are our faith increasing, our love for one another growing, our hope enduring and our focus is being made in the image and likeness of Christ and sharing the Good News with all. 
How are we doing?

comments powered by Disqus