Sermon – June 7, 2020
We are told by our Lord that our mission in the world is to make disciples. Yet, for many of us, this is a task that is done best by the professionals. Pastors, teachers, missionaries: these are the ones who are really expected to make disciples. Yet, in this small overlooked book we find a young church that nevertheless flourishes not only in being disciples, but in making them as well. Their example is one for us to follow. Today, let us see how we can become better at both ends of this mission for the church, turning to 1 Thessalonians to become better both at being discipled and become disciple-makers. How do we do this?
We must recognize the good that those who are growing in the Lord are showing. Paul praised the work of faith, labor of love, and the steadfastness of hope in Jesus he saw in his young disciples. We must encourage one another in the Lord if we expect others to grow! Yet, Paul is clear, such growth is not because of the talent or goodness of the Thessalonians, but rather the work of God. He thanks God, for it was God working through his word in the Thessalonians that made the difference. We cannot take credit for the work of God, and we must always recognize his great work in bringing sinners into the faith.
We must also be replicating ourselves. The Thessalonians began to imitate the life of Paul and Silas in the short time that they were able to be with the Thessalonians. We must not only teach what good doctrine is, but also model good living in the gospel. And when we do, we find something else extraordinary happens: others begin to follow our example. The example of the young Thessalonians was passed on quicker than Paul could travel. Our example of life is seen, regardless of whether we want such responsibility or not. Let us walk rightly in the gospel, that the example we set might be exemplary.
But, finally, we must also remember. We are not in the business of simply showing a good way to live, but in living in light of the work of Christ. We live in repentance, moving from our idols to serve God. And we live in expectation, awaiting our risen Lord from heaven, even as we find refuge from the coming wrath in him. May all follow our example and find their hope in him!