“We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
– I Thess 1:3
As a human being I am learning that every role we live and work in has its mix of responsibilities and experiences that are really good and fun, and then the pieces that are more difficult, challenging and at times just hard.
As a pastor those moments of joy and reward included dedicating people’s children, being with people as they made the decision to follow Christ, baptisms, being present with people when they walked through a difficult season of life and were seeking to find God in the midst of it. Or helping a group of people figure out together what God had for them next as a church. I loved that! In my current role one of the joys I have is seeing the breadth of the Church in Canada and the many ways in which God is working.
In I Thessalonians Paul is writing to a church he deeply loves.
Work produced by faith
Faith is often defined as a belief in God which is unprovable. In the context of the church of Thessalonica Paul recognizes that their faith in Christ produced a work within them that could only be produced through God’s movement among them. In later verses Paul talks about the fruit of their faith and the work it produced; their concern for others, their willing acceptance of persecution and their desire for the gospel to penetrate the lives of others.
When our lives are lived out with an active and hope filled sense of faith, the world and our situations can look vastly different. We can actually enter into a place where we can be used of God in ways that we could not have possibly imagined.
A year ago, churches within the BIC Canada family were in the middle of figuring out how to respond to the Syrian Refugee crisis. A year later it is exciting to celebrate what God has done.
Today dozens of people whose lives were in turmoil are living in peace and have experienced followers of Jesus as people who will love them, serve them and walk alongside them. This work produced by faith has impacted families not just from Syria and the Levant region of the world but also families from Columbia who our churches have sponsored.
Your labour prompted by your love
In my life one of the “labours” of love I enjoy is cooking. It’s a labour prompted by my internal love for my family. In Paul’s letter to the Church he commends them for their labour promoted by love. He doesn’t say who that love was for. In Paul’s mind it could be as specific as a love for God or a love for others. Or in a more general sense it could simply be Christian love.
At the same time Paul is clear that our love for one another will grow and overflow into a love for everyone else. Paul suggests that Christian love must work itself out in such a way that it ends up impacting people outside of us.
I see our churches attempting to live this out in their ministries. Whether its through refugee care, serving at local food banks, helping women’s shelters, offering Divorce Care for Kids or simply finding ways to share the love and hope of Jesus with a neighbour it is a labour prompted by love.
It is my prayer that all of our churches are known as beacons of love and concern for all people.
Endurance inspired by hope
As we seek to live in a way that is consistent with the faith we have, we also experience the reality that at times life is hard. God seems quiet, the work seems overwhelming, the call to experience transformation in our own lives can be challenging. But Paul commends the church at Thessalonica for an endurance that is inspired by hope in Christ Jesus. In other words Paul says your hope is in the idea that someday your faith and love will have been worth it. Its a hope anchored in Jesus. It’s a hope anchored in the one who is the firstborn over all creation (Col 1:15). It is a hope anchored in the one who is faithful (5:24).
I believe with all my heart that when we live with Christ… the joys, the frustrations… the stuff we call life, work and ministry will have been worth it.
As you read through The Appetizer this year it is my hope that you find encouragement as you hear stories of people who are experiencing a work in their life produced by faith, and others who are serving people through a labour of love. Its my hope that these stories help all of us to develop a heart that endures inspired by the hope we have in Christ.
Together with you in ministry,