Summary: The church exists for the glory of God and the good of others.
Title: Things That Are True and What They Mean
Text: I Thessalonians 1:1-10
This week I read that the police department of Bothell, WA has requested that residents stop dialing 911 to report they can’t log onto Facebook which reminded me of a phrase popularized a few years ago by a rather earthy comedian, “You can’t fix stupid.”
I ran across a couple of curious song titles this week. One is sung by a group called The Melvins, who have produced an album/CD or whatever titled, A Walk with Love and Death. Their title song is, “What’s Wrong with You.” So I went on YouTube to check it out and basically the premise of the song is, “What’s wrong with me is what’s wrong with you.”
I also happened upon another interesting song sung by Todd Grebe and Cold Country in their new album/CD, Until Tomorrow. It’s a song about a girl and they sing, “Little girl, you’re a lot of work. It must be hard being you.”
I guess I was intrigued by their song titles because I have often asked the question, “What’s wrong with you?” And I have thought it must be hard being who some people are. Neither the question nor the observation is complementary.
I was also intrigued by how differently the Apostle Paul saw and thought of the people who were the church at Thessalonica. In our text today Paul did not start out with a “You can’t fix stupid.” Or a, “What’s wrong with you?” or say, “It must be hard being you.” His observations are positive and up lifting… it is as if he is saying, “This is what’s right with you.” And he is stating, “Being who you are is a good thing.”
The first good thing our text speaks to that is true is:
I. We Belong to God
We are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. I Thessalonians 1:1
Q. What does it mean for a church and for people to belong to God?
It means our lives and our church is about God not us.
The Apostle Paul begins his letter by making a fairly unnerving statement about the church… about you and me and all who follow Christ. He is writing to, “you who belong to God.”
It is reminiscent of a comment he made in I Corinthians 6:19-20 where he wrote, “You are not your own, i.e., you do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with the high price, i.e., the precious blood of Christ, so you must honor God with your body.”
This is kind of a foreign concept for us. We are pretty sure that most things exist for us. The people at Du Page Medical Center exist to keep me healthy. The people at DXL Destination exist to clothe me. The people at Great Clips exist to keep me looking like I just stepped out of GQ Magazine. The people at the corner gas exist to keep my car fueled up. The people at DISH Network exist to keep me entertained. You get the idea. It only makes sense in a consumer culture to believe the church exists to meet my wants and needs.
So I look for a church that caters to my preferences and felt needs. Before I get in any deeper just let me say, the church does not exist to make me or you or anyone else miserable. But it, we, us, St. Paul’s ultimately belong to God. It is not a human-centered organization. The church is God-Centered. We, as the church, exist for the glory of God. So Paul wrote in I Corinthians 10:31, “Whatever you do… do it all for the glory of God.” Simply put, at the heart of it all, the church exists for the praise and glory of God. Before all the other things that happen here, when we gather it is an opportunity for us to glorify, praise and worship God.
I heard the story of a woman who had finished shopping and returned to her car. She found four men inside the car. She dropped her shopping bags, drew a handgun, and screamed, "I have a gun, and I know how to use it! Get out of the car." Those men did not wait for a second invitation; they got out and ran like crazy.
The woman, somewhat shaken, loaded her shopping bags and then got into the car. But no matter how she tried, she could not get her key into the ignition. Then it dawned on her: her car was parked four or five spaces away! She loaded her grocery bags into her own car and then drove to the police station to turn herself in. The desk sergeant pointed to the other end of the counter, where four men were reporting a carjacking by an old woman with thick glasses and curly white hair, less than five feet tall, and carrying a large handgun.