This Sunday sees us complete our morning series on 1 Thessalonians entitled Gospel Community values. It is a chance as we finish this great letter to reflect on its challenges for us.
1. I can't be a disciple alone - the letter stresses the believers need of other believers. In an age when we are all prone to individualism we need to hear this message. God calls us not just to believe in him but to become part of his people.
2. I am responsible for your spiritual growth - consistently throughout the letter he exhorts them to encourage or build up one another. Whilst recognising the labour and love of their leaders he does not expect the leaders to be doing all the work, rather the expectation is of each believer discipling other believers. Again this is so counter cultural - we need to understand that there is no clergy and laity, there is no performer and spectator, there is no producer and consumer when it comes to God's people and his church.
3. We are to be being changed by God's word - How do believers disciple one another? It is through the word of God applied to one anothers lives, be it in encouraging the bereaved or speaking words of prophecy to one another. This is not the job of the pastor or the elders (nor should they exclusively want it to be) but should be happening organically whenever we meet.
4. We need understand and live in the light of our future. Christ is coming again the judgement day is set, as Thessalonians reminds us in every chapter, and though we do not need to know its date we do need to remember its reality and live in the light of it.
5. We have a sovereign God who is able - The confidence of the Thessalonians is not grounded in their ability or understanding but on God who is faithful and will present them faultless when Christ comes again.