We need one another
This has been a thought on my mind recently and recently I preached a message about how important it is for us to have strong relationships. Certainly in the church and in every facet of life. The most important for anyone to have is the relationship with our creator, the Lord God.
Relationships are impossible to have and nurture if they are not in place and functioning as they should. I read just this week that a survey indicates that 1 out of 3 regular attenders have not attended an in-person worship service or even watched an online service during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was surprised as I can understand the reluctance and concern about the in-person worship but I figured everyone would use the online. If anything my concern is and has been that people would use the online as a default for corporate worship in the future. Unfortunately, that may be true but that also indicates that many people will not engage in any form of worship which is a major concern.
Now there was a time, you know a long time ago like maybe 6-8 months, you know back in the old days, that we would hear some say something like “Nobody cares about me, I missed church 3 Sundays in a row, and no one even called me, I guess no one cares”.
You may have heard these words or even said them to yourself? No matter how young or old, we all need to know that someone cares for us. Now in order to achieve this, we have to be together and with social distancing and a continual call to stay away for others, this is going to get to be pretty difficult. I said last week in my message that we are built for relationships. First with our creator and then with one another.
One of the things we know about Paul and the churches he ministered to is that he cherished their friendship. Today there is probably no greater need in people’s lives than to have a meaningful relationship with their church. Now admittedly as we have said previously it certainly a challenge given where we are today. Church provides a context in which friendships can be established and nurtured. It is our Christian friends who we need to encourage and stand firm within times of temptation, tribulation, and yes Covid-19 and all challenges it brings with it to our lives.
In the world as well as in the church, many today feel that no one cares for them. Believers can and should encourage one another and share it with one another in caring ways. A friendly church truly becomes a place to find a friend, it becomes a home and I believe the opportunities are even greater now for the church to reach out into the communities in which they have an address. Because there are 4 things that everyone needs and they are Genuine Friends, Gentle Friends, Concerned Friends, and Praying Friends.
First, everyone needs Genuine Friends. Sometimes people will do things for the wrong reason.
For Paul there were some who had planted seeds of doubt about Paul’s true motives, they had done the wrong thing for the wrong reason. As unfortunate as it was, Paul felt he had to answer these charges against him.
1 Thessalonians 2:4-6a
4 But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.
5 For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness.
6 Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others,...
Paul makes his case based on God’s “approval” and in the 4th verse, he says they were “approved by God” and later in the verse he uses the phrase “tests our hearts”. This is actually the same verb in both instances. In both he said God “allowed” -dokimazo-to test, to examine, to prove, to scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not)-the idea is to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, to deem worthy.
If you would think about this for a moment had Paul and Silas come to Thessalonica just to please people, they would not have been willing to suffer at the hands of the Jews.
There are times when God’s approval comes through testing. The opposition to them was not evidence against them but an affirmation that God was testing their motives.
They were Genuine Friends evidenced in their concern and care for the believers in Thessalonica. As well, they were Gentle Friends.
1 Thessalonians 2:6b-9
6b...when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ.
7 But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.
8 So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.
9 For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.
Paul moves from credible defense to a more emotional level. For Paul and the church of the Thessalonians, credibility and genuine care were essential in building their relationship. Is it any different today? No
Today believers need to sense a genuine emotional commitment from those which they share their spiritual commitment.
Truly, they had become Gentle Friends. Moreover, they were also Concerned Friends.
1 Thessalonians 2:10-12
10 You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe;
11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children,
12 that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
What do you think was Paul’s desire while ministering to them? It was to please God. He was letting them know that his actions, attitudes, and motives were consistent with his desire to serve God. They had been “devout”, “just” and “blameless” not selfish, ungodly counterfeits. They always had had the best interest of the church at heart.
In verse 11 he says we “exhorted” or encouraged, “comforted”, “charged” (to cite a witness, brought forward a witness, to declared solemnly) of God.
Paul continued and in chapter 3 prayed for the Christians in Thessalonian church. He knew that they were Praying Friends.
If there is something that, your brothers and sisters in Christ need to know is that you are praying for them.
Paul knew this and he wanted to share that prayer with them for their edification.
11 Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you.
12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you,
13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.
There is an old saying that goes like this “there are three things that grow more precious with age: old wood to burn, old books to read, and old friends to enjoy.”
You might be surprised to find that the number one problem missionary’s face is "relationships with other missionaries." Satan knows the necessity and value of relationships, so he consequently focuses his greatest attention on destroying them. His success comes in distancing people from God, and from one another. Friends are something all of us need and all of us need to be one to others around us.
A thought to ponder,