Posted by Rev. Jeff Dixon, Senior Equipping Minister at Covenant Community Church on Jan 1, 2002, 17:53
An elderly man had been fitted with a hearing aid. A week later he returned to the doctor for a checkup.
“How do you like it?” asked the doctor
“How does the family like it?”
“Oh, I haven’t told them yet, but I have changed my will 3 times this week.”
There is such joy at times as people deal with family. As frustrating as families can be at times, they also provide strength, encouragement, belonging, and fulfillment. That is why there are so many things we must understand about being a part of the family of God. The more I read Scripture, the more I am convinced that one of the greatest gifts God gives to the believer is the precious gift of family. We are brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. Paul is the author of 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:10. In those verses I think there is some very clear teaching on the fact that we belong together as a family in the body of Christ. Let’s take a peek at the passage.
First there is a CLOSENESS (with the family) (v.17 & 3:8) “But, brothers, when we were torn away from you, for a short time (in person, not in thought) out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you” In verse 17, Paul says I felt like a child ripped from my home (literal meaning). Yet the connection that Paul has with the church is strengthening him. Later we see that indeed Paul is walking by faith. The people are a part of that inspiration. Notice in (3:8) “For now we really live, since you are standing firm.”
You develop relationships in the family of Christ. It is good to do so, it is the plan of God. There is a bond that we share with other believers. We have something in common, we are family. Paul is saying it very clearly here. Paul felt as if he was orphaned because he couldn’t be with them. He saw the value of the relationships and longed for the closeness. He knew that we belong together. I want you to see something else.
Next there is a CONCERN (for the family) ( 3:5 ) “For this reason when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith…”
If you are the parent of a teenager you may have heard them scream, “you don’t trust me”. If they say that to you, here is a response.
Tell them, “Right! I am glad you are perceptive. I don’t trust me either, that is why I care about what you do and where you do it!”
Paul was concerned about the family and decided to check up on them and see how they were doing. One of the subtlest sins we can commit is that we think we can make it by ourselves. We try to convince ourselves of it, but then we crash and it is awful. We need one another and we need to be concerned about each other. That concern and care helps to keep us on track.
Next there is the need for CONTACT (with the family) (v.3:1-2a) “So when we could stand it no longer we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens, We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker. Then ( 2:17) “out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you”
Paul wants to be face to face with the family of God. He realizes the gift that they are to him, and vice versa. Paul is longing to be with them and have a family reunion. The contact we make with each other helps to keep us strong.
A visitor told me not so long ago after a Sunday service, “ I had forgotten how great it is to be with believers.” There is just something about us that needs that contact. We were created for community. We need each other. It is how we get strength. Hang on, there is still more to see in the text.
Now notice the CARE (for the family) (3:10) “Night and day, we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.”
Paul cared so much for them that he sent Timothy to be with them. Contact without care is superficial. Timothy became a reminder of how much they were cared for by Paul. We must learn to care for each other. Through our prayers, words, smiles, acts of compassion, willingness to be there when someone needs us, and our ongoing relationships remind us of what it means to care. The family of God does belong to together. The closer you grow in your walk with Christ, the more you understand that. All of this is good stuff, but there is more and it is important.
See now the COMFORT (of the family) (3:7-8) “ Therefore brothers in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live since you are standing firm in the Lord.”
Have you discovered the blessing of another’s victory? In Romans 12:15 we read the same idea, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn” The neat thing is that we can celebrate other victories with our family. It is thrilling to hear what God is doing in the lives of others. Personally it gives me hope! I think of people who have had work related problems. We prayed and it worked out. That is cause for celebration. I think back about a lady who had been praying for her husband and he accepted Christ. That is cause to rejoice! A man told he had started having daily devotions again. The reason was he felt like it was time to come home and draw close to the Father. It is cause for celebration. We should be excited about what is happening. They are our victories as well as part of the family of God.
Finally we need to remember the CAUSE (of it all) (3:9) “How can we thank God enough for you, in return for all the joy we have in the presence of God because of you?”
The closeness, concern, contact, care, and comfort don’t happen in a vacuum. It is all because of the Father, the head of the family! And without the father, it is nothing. It means nothing and nothing happens.
I was the guest speaker at a conference. Someone walked up to me and said, “You know what the best thing about the conference is?” Sure. I thought he was going to say the guest speaker, which to me made perfect sense. Then he continued, “It has nothing to do with the meetings (a sinking feeling hit me at that point I must admit), the neat part is that we are here together. I like being with all of my brothers and sisters. That excites me.” And it should, the reason is because we belong together. Make sure you thank God for the gift we have in one another each and every day!
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