"Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:Grace to you and peace. We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know,brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake."
- 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5
Ah the greetings of the Epistles. Used to be I'd gloss over them, as they just seemed like fancy versions of "Dear So and So" until I was in some good Bible studies that dissected and showed me the riches therein.
In this greeting we see Paul (and Silvanus and Timothy) saying that the Church in Thessalonica is "in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." That alone is some nice theological meat. What does it mean to be in God? I'm not going to open that up right now as we could spend all day there and I'm planning on keeping these Scripture Sundays kind of brief, but I'm pointing out that's a huge point to meditate on in a simple greeting.
"Grace to you and peace" I admit I realize that we don't really greet and talk to each other much this way anymore. We sing about amazing grace and talk about the peace of God, but do we really understand it can something we wish upon others?
Then they go on to say they are always giving thanks for them and praying for them. That makes me think am I doing that for the believers in my life, far and near? They are blessings given to me (and I to them) in Christ, but do we take time to really lift them up unless they're in a crisis or perhaps receive a rare blessing? Do we remember to pray for our brethren in their everyday lives?
"Remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love" Do we meditate on the evidence of lives of faith in other Christians we know? Do recognize their labors of love, or do we just smile and say "that's great for them" and get back to our own concerns? I think learning to have appreciation for seeing Christ work in others is very vital to really knitting together the Church, since the same Spirit at work in them is at work in You. We are not separate, not really.
"and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." This phrase made my heart sing. Just one of those things that resonated. I thought of how when life is down or just too busy to really feel the majesty of the Lord, you know bogged down in the nitty gritty, we still have to have steadfast hope in Christ. Our hope can't be wavering, and if it is we must come to God for restoration and renewal, so we can grow in Him and Hope can be blossomed anew.
Then they say that they know these brethren of theirs are loved by God and chosen because they saw the gospel come not only in word but in "power and with the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." I admit that's a deep thought passage for me for a few reasons. Firstly, I think we often don't dwell on how the saved around us are loved and chosen. We just don't think of that as their primary identity, though in our private devotions we may be trying to understand those principles to ourselves. Secondly, I think of people I know who were saved and I think "did I see them come to the gospel in power and with the Holy Spirit and with full conviction? Or was it only in word?" It's something to ponder and pray over. For some the former with full joy. For some, I am uncertain.
The last sentence "You know kind of men we have been proved to be for your sake" is really the intro to next week's selection. I'll just take the time to observe that again their focus is on the Church of the Thessalonians when they say this was "for your sake." They're not saying "You know what kind of men we are" alone, though that is probably true, but they are directly appealing to them knowing their character because of how they proven to be for others. More on that next week...
Part two can be found here.
Linking up with Fellowship Fridays,