Summary: Paul the church planter sends Timothy to encourage the church and to report back. Paul prays that they will have the love of Jesus for each other AND for everyone else. My prayer is that we will have Jesus’ love for each other, AND for everyone else!
[This is the first sermon I preached in Billericay. I hope you will forgive the nonsense at the start and then hear God’s call on us to love one another and to love the lost]
Let me begin by saying that I cannot remember the last time I preached from this book. However, let me also say that I often cannot remember what I ate for breakfast, and even though I have now been your Vicar for a whole 5 days, I cannot remember many of your names! If I am still struggling with this in 5 years time then please feel free to suggest that it’s high time I started writing down on a piece of paper what I ate for breakfast.
If I was still at college and this sermon was being observed by my tutors and fellow students, I would by now be receiving some very hard stares from various corners of the church. My observers would be scribbling furiously and I would be for the high jump on Monday morning. So, if in 5 years time my sermons still begin with utter nonsense, please feel free to suggest that it’s high time I started writing down on a piece of paper what I ate for breakfast.
Now if in good evangelical style any of you have been taking detailed notes of everything I have said so far, please can I ask you to cross out your initial notes? So far, I have been larking about. As you get to know me I hope you will discover that what you see is what you get. I often see the funny side of most things.
However, I do also know when to be sober; to be serious, and we must approach God’s book, God’s Bible with reverence and respect, because (1 Thess 2:13) it is not the word of men or women, but it is the word of God; and it is this word that Paul preached to the church in Thessalonica; and it is to that church that Paul later wrote these words from God. Contrary to what Dan Brown the author of the ‘Da Vinci’ code wants to tell us, this book The Bible is reliable!
Paul founded the church at Thessalonica. The members of that church had once worshipped idols. Not lazy people (idles!) but statues.
After they met with Paul and responded to the Good News of Jesus Christ their lives were transformed! Droves of people began “to serve the living and true God” (1 Thess 1:9). Is that our prayer for the people of Billericay? It is definitely my prayer!
The faith of the church in Thessalonica became well known (1 Thess 1:8) and yet it is also a church which needed to be encouraged and strengthened. Paul sent Timothy to do just that: to encourage and strengthen (1 Thess 3:2). Do we need to be encouraged and strengthened? God can do it, and God will do it!
So some time later, Paul the church planter sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to encourage the church and to report back, because Paul loved the church with the love of Jesus Christ. Do we love the church with the love of Jesus Christ?
If those who originally planted this church on behalf of the Lord Jesus were to arrive here to encourage us, and then to ‘report back’, what message would go back to the church planters? What letter would we receive in return? Do we love the church with the love of Jesus Christ?
So many questions! Yet they are important questions.
We were not planted by Paul but we do have local apostles who love us. If you didn’t know this already can I encourage you by saying that our local apostles (our Bishops) love this church very much indeed. I know for a fact that Bishop John and Bishop Laurie love Christ Church Billericay very much; but let me put your minds at rest. I am not Timothy! I have not been sent to encourage you and then to report back! No, I have been sent to join in with what God is doing to encourage, equip and enable us to do church to the glory of The Lord Jesus Christ.
18 months ago I was in Nairobi, Kenya and if I was preaching there I would now want to say, “Church, do I hear an Amen?” However, since we are mostly English and mostly Anglican, I won’t do that. Honest!
This letter of Paul which was fully inspired by God is relevant to us today and chapter 3 verse 12 comes across as a prayer for the church: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else”. You don’t know me yet, and of course I don’t know you yet, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that God has given me an immense love for you. God has blessed me with an immense love for the people of Christ Church and for the people of Billericay. My prayer for us, my prayer for you is this: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else”.