Monday, October 3, 2011

The Morning After: Authentic Change (1 Thessalonians 1:1-10)

Change! It is something that is unavoidable in our life. That doesn't mean we always like it, but it is a reality. Many people think that change is a bad word, because they like their things or their life the way it is. But some change can be a very good thing. A God-honoring thing. It is this sort of change that we see in the charter members of the church of Thessalonica. In Acts 17, the Apostle Paul enters the city, preaches the gospel to them over a period of several weeks, experiences severe persecution, and is run out of town. But in that short time, a church is started. Several months later, after Timothy visits this young church and returns to Paul in Corinth to tell him that the church not only has survived, but is thriving, Paul writes this great letter to them. And the first thing he writes about is the change they experienced in life.

Paul begins by saying how thankful they are to God for how their lives had changed. He reflects upon their work of faith, their labor of love, and their endurance of hope (vs. 3). Even though they were a very young church, they obviously demonstrated genuine and real Christian characteristics--faith, hope, & love. There is something to be said about a young church being started amidst major persecution that refines and shapes it into the image of the Savior.

But Paul knew their life change was nothing that he did. In vs. 5, Paul says that when he preached to them, it was not just words out of his mouth that changed their life. The message was accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit. And what happened? They became imitators of suffering of Paul & the Lord (vs. 6). Then they became an example to all the believers in the surrounding regions (vs. 7-8).

Why did this all happen? The reason the people at Thessalonica were known for their life change was because they understood a little word that is foreign to many Christians today: repentance! In vs. 9-10, we are told they turned from their idols to God in order to serve Him and wait for His son from heaven to return. That's repentance! It means that we turn from those things that we are serving as idols. We stop worshipping a person, sport, lifestyle, video game, music, money, sex, work, television, food, drink, drug, and so on. We stop bowing our lives down for those things and we begin to worship the Lord God of the Bible instead. That's a good change! That was their life change! 

Here's the question for us: "What needs to change in our life?" Maybe you are the person who came to Jesus in repentance many years ago, but still secretly are holding onto some things that need to be repented of in your life. I am sure every one of us needs to continually repents. The Christian needs to keep changing. Keep reforming. Keep seeking repentance. What was the last thing that you repented of in your life?

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