Summary: What are some biblical characteristics that our church should emulate?
Verse: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Probing Question: What is church?
Key Word: characteristics
Subject: characteristics of church
Aim: To encourage the congregation to identify desirable church characteristics.
Title: Bearing In Mind
Illustration: (Name Brand Products)
Lipton, Kraft and Swanson bring images of soup, macaroni and frozen dinners. Crayola, Fisher-Price and Mattel bring images of children playing with their toys. Levi, Gap and Tommy Hilfiger bring images of clothing, TV commercials and high paid models. Chevy, Dodge and Ford bring images of cars, trucks and our favourite road trips.
Each of these is a name brand product that has been well marketed; so well marketed that we associate them with specific images and characteristics. We remember these names and associate them with specific characteristics.
Illustration: (Mark Twain)
It is amazing the images that a name brings to mind. Samuel Clement is a name that few recognize right away. But you mention Mark Twain and the image of a paddle wheeler on the Mississippi River comes to mind. You start to remember Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Jim and Injun Joe. Mark Twain brings images of excitement and adventure on the Mississippi. What power names have to stir the imagination!
The Church is built on the name of Jesus Christ. To that end the church represents Jesus as his ambassador to the world. What does the name church mean to those in the secular world? What kind of images does the church bring to the non-Christian’s mind?
The Church at Thessalonica had created for itself a reputation that held specific images and memories for many people. For Paul the Thessalonian church brought fond memories and he recognized the need to praise this young Church for its works of faith, labour of love and steadfast hope. To praise them for the good things they were accomplishing.
Turn with me now in your Bibles to 1 Thessalonians 1: 1-10.
1 Thessalonians 1: 1-10
1 This letter is from Paul, Silas, F1 and Timothy. It is written to the church in Thessalonica, you who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May his grace and peace be yours.
2 We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly.
3 As we talk to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and your continual anticipation of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
4 We know that God loves you, dear brothers and sisters, F2 and that he chose you to be his own people.
5 For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know that the way we lived among you was further proof of the truth of our message.
6 So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord.
7 As a result, you yourselves became an example to all the Christians in Greece. F3
8 And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Greece, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it,
9 for they themselves keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the true and living God.
10 And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven – Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgement.
Work of Faith
Paul praised the Thessalonicans for their work of faith. What is a work of faith?
The activity that faith inspires.
"In Search Of Hidden Heroes", a book written by Don Moore and Lorna Dueck during their work on the Vision 2000 evangelism task force, contains stories about the unrecognized heroes of our Christian faith. The heroes that are involved in the day to day work of being a Christian. Christians who strive to live their faith on construction sites, busy malls, offices, classrooms or wherever they may be called to work. That is where they live out their faith. These are the people whose names bring images of what church is all about or what it means to be a Christian to their co-workers. They are remembered for their work of faith.
Discovery Christian Fellowship is made of such heroes. Those who are striving to live out their faith in a hostile world. Our work associates remember our names and likely associate church and being a Christian with us. What a positive impact we can make in this world of ours.