Opening the letter of 1 Thessalonians, you will be immediately struck with one of the greatest blessings we have in Christ – the wonderful family of God!
“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God” (1 Thessalonians 1:1-4).
What they all had in common was God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 1). God, through Jesus, has brought us all together (2 Corinthians 5:19). Different ages, nationalities, backgrounds. The church of Christ is a church for all people (Galatians 3:26-29). It is a wonderful family that is blessed by God with peace and grace.
People still need such a family; a place where you know who you are and why you are here; that gives you a sense of identity and belonging; a safe and secure environment where you can be nurtured into maturity as a child of God; where true relationships may be developed and enjoyed with other Christians; where you can worship and serve God.
Consider the interest that Christians have for one another in the church (vv. 2-4). Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy expressed their interest in the church of the Thessalonians in at least four ways:
1) They were always thankful to God for them. How often do we take the church for granted? How often do we complain about the church? Should we not also always be thankful to God for the church?
2) They mentioned them in their prayers. When was the last time you prayed concerning the church? Are you praying for our leaders, our deacons, our preachers and teachers, our members, the ongoing work of the Lord’s church here and around the world?
3) They never forgot their faithfulness. The faith, love and hope of the Thessalonians was demonstrated by their work, labor, and patience. Paul and his helpers recognized it and it did not go unnoticed by God.
4) They loved them like brothers. God had chosen them! That is what “elect” means. It doesn’t mean, as some have falsely taught, that God arbitrarily chooses who will be saved or condemned (cf. 1 Tim. 2:6; 1 John 2:1-2). Each one has the opportunity to accept or reject the gospel and God has chosen to save those who accept it and condemn those who reject it (Mark 16:15-16). So, if God chooses someone to be in His church how can we reject them? All of us ought to be genuinely interested in one another.
The family of God draws us together, inspires, strengthens, and encourages us in the Lord.
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
6059 Azle Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76135