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Apr. 22, 2023

At the beginning of this second letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul celebrates what's happening there by giving thanks to God for faith that is growing and love that is increasing among them. He is so excited about these things that he boasts about them to the other churches he is engaging. He doesn't talk about how they are growing stronger in their finances or their attendance or even in the number of people that are making commitments to Jesus. Instead he is celebrating the way the character of Jesus is being formed in them. That's what he's talking about to other churches.
Doesn't that say something about what Paul ultimately looked for as a pastor? He is interested in people becoming more and more like Jesus in the ways they are living together as the body of Christ. He is interested in Christ being fully formed in them. That's the target for the work of the church – living out in more and more complete ways the ethic and life of Jesus. When that is the target, God is able to grow the church (Acts 2:42). We are so stuck on growing the organization as a business – figuring out how to make the budget bigger and get more people in the pews and reach those that are marginalized. What if that was the wrong target? What if the target was forming people whoever they happen to be into the character of Christ? As more and more people are being formed in that way, the church becomes attractive in ways we cannot imagine or predict. What if this points to what God is really looking for in you and me? What if it has nothing really to do with services attended and studies completed but character formed?
Our Banding Together Journal readings for the week ahead:
MONDAY, April 24, Romans 1; Ps. 73:1-15
TUESDAY, April 25, Romans 2; Ps. 73:16-28
WEDNESDAY, April 26, Romans 3; Ps. 74
THURSDAY, April 27, Romans 4; Ps. 75
FRIDAY, April 28, Romans 5; Ps. 76
SATURDAY, April 29, Romans 6; Ps. 77
SUNDAY, April 30, Review