You may remember using your hands to recite this little poem, “This is the church and this is the steeple. Open the door and see all the people.” Interestingly, in 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 1, the Apostle Paul, “opened the door” to the Thessalonian church, as he described what he had learned about the Christians in the Greek city of Thessalonica. Paul’s words encouraged the Thessalonians, as he detailed them as a mighty church that influenced the world. Paul’s description encourages and challenges us to be a mighty church in our world.
First, Paul mentioned that the Thessalonians, “welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 1:6). The Thessalonians were eager to receive the Word of God, even in the midst of persecution for their faith in Christ. Hearing and responding to God’s Word sustained the Thessalonian church through difficult times. No matter what we face as Christians, our church will find solid ground in the Bible. We must continuously be open to receive God’s truth and be willing to respond to it with obedience.
Due to their openness to God’s message, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “you became a model to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia” (1 Thess. 1:7), and “your faith in God has become known everywhere” (1 Thess. 1:8). The faithfulness of the Thessalonians was a powerful example for other believers. Christians faced persecution, but the Thessalonians remained steadfast under pressure, which encouraged others to emulate their faith in Christ. Our culture may threaten us to forfeit our convictions, but a mighty church will stand strong as a meaningful example of unity, love, and faithfulness to God and His Word.
Third, Paul heard the report that the Thessalonians, “Turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thess. 1:9). The Thessalonians lived in a pagan culture with multiple gods. Nonetheless, as Christians, they were called to turn from these false gods to serve the one true God. Being saved through Jesus Christ resulted in a changed life and a new allegiance. Being a mighty church requires that we abandon the “old life” and grasp the “new life” with resolve in God’s strength. Together, we turn from idols, false gods and poor motivations to a single purpose —"to serve the living and true God.”
Finally, the Thessalonian church maintained a proper future-focus, as Paul wrote that the Thessalonians, “wait for God’s Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath” (1 Thess. 1:10). Their faithfulness was motivated by the truth of Jesus’ imminent return and God’s coming judgement. We also know the surety of the coming age inaugurated by Jesus’ return. A mighty church urgently follows God with this future in mind because we know that the time is short. People need our example of faithfulness to God and to His command to share His Son with others.
Like Paul to the Thessalonians, may Christian Family Fellowship be reported as a mighty church that loves God and His Word, as we faithfully and diligently serve Him as the only living and true God! --- Pastor Jeff