Summary: We are to be good shepherds, servant leaders whose job description includes leading others to God. God empowers us as leaders and as followers to build up, to influence and to persuade others.
When we spread the good news of the Gospel, we can expect to face opposition. The apostle Paul was no exception. He boldly preached the Gospel to the Thessalonians in spite of suffering and mistreatment. First Thessalonians 2:1-8 is a model for all Christians to follow, especially when they are called to spread the Good News of the Gospel. In particular, we are to pay attention to the example Paul set for us. His bold preaching was direct and to the point. He did not use words that would please his audience. He did not resort to manipulation. He did not try to “tickle the ears” of his listeners. He did not try to use his ministry for financial gain. Unlike some preachers. Paul was honest, and honesty is refreshingly simple. No ulterior motives or hidden meanings. No need to manipulate people. No matter how much opposition he encountered, he never took his eyes off of his calling to bring people to Jesus.
If we want to build the Christian community, we must proclaim the Gospel boldly. In the words of Dr. Michael Youssef, who is the president of Leading the Way Ministries, we must “passionately proclaim uncompromising truth.” We must be fearless when we speak out against things such as social injustice, lax morals or the abuse of power within the Christian community.
Paul was entrusted by God to speak not to please man, but to please God. Paul was entrusted with the Gospel, just like God entrusts all of his people with the Gospel. The Gospel has been safeguarded throughout the nations. It is the responsibility of each generation to safeguard the Gospel for generations to come.
Paul and his fellow missionaries could have made demands as apostles. In particular, they could have asked to be paid for their preaching, but they didn’t. Paul made his living as a tentmaker everywhere he went to preach. This supported the claim that the motives of Paul and his colleagues were pure. Lay ministers such as me do not get paid for leading worship services unless they take services in a parish other than their home parish. In my case, I was paid for leading worship services at the United Churches in Liverpool and Bridgewater this past summer. The love of God speaks to the insecurity and the need that is at the centre of greed and as we focus on God’s gift of grace, and we remember that in Jesus we have been given abundant, eternal life, there becomes less and less we have to have, less and less we want.
The Christian church does have some ministers with large egos who have to put their pictures on all their books, parade their degrees after their names, or have the best parking places and the nicest offices. They are no better than the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. True preachers can’t separate their preaching from their daily lives. They must literally “practice what they preach.” If only all preachers-indeed-if only all Christians-served one another as Paul served his fellow Christians. He served his fellow Christians in the following ways: