An Authentic Ministry is composed of people who are deeply committed to God through strong faith in Jesus! It is a type of faith that doesn't waiver. It is a faith that does not give up. It is a faith that continues to grow. It is the type of faith that we see in the people of the church at Thessalonica.
Paul cared deeply for the people of this church because when he planted the church, he was only able to spend a few weeks with them. Then he was forced to leave town in a hurry. Several months later, he was deeply concerned that they had succumbed to the persecutions they were facing and might have left the faith. He was so concerned that he sent Timothy to them, to check on and strengthen their faith. He wanted to make sure they were not "moved by these afflictions."
As I studied last week, one thought kept coming to my mind. Paul said that he told them persecutions would come. He told them that they are destined for sufferings (vs. 3-4). Jesus repeatedly told His followers that they would experience persecution for following Him (Matt. 10:16-18; John 15:18-20). Later in Paul's ministry, he would say that every person that desires to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12). The question that kept coming to my mind was this:
If Jesus, and Paul, continually said that persecution would come to those who follow Jesus, why don't we experience more of it in our churches?
Here were some of my thoughts. I would be curious if you agree or disagree with these thoughts.
First, Maybe We Are Just Fortunate To Live In America. The place I live is not Iran. I am not suffering like Pastor Youcef. Maybe it is just God's grace to us that we live here and experience less persecution than those in other places of the world. Or maybe it is God's judgment upon us. I say that because a lack of persecution produces more people with false faith in the church instead of authentic faith.
Second, Maybe We Have Isolate Ourselves In A Christian Subculture. Some people can become so consumed with church, their Christian school, their Christian sports clubs, their Christian friends, and their Christian meetings that they have no opportunities to rub shoulders with anyone that believes different than them. If there is no connection point at some place in your life, I wonder if you will ever experience persection. Jesus prayed in John 17:15 that His desire was that His followers would not be taken out of the world, but that they would be protected from the evil one.
Third, Maybe We Are Not As Serious About Our Faith As We Think We Are. Have you ever thought about what would happen if a Christian were to live and share Jesus with every person they come in contact with in life? I know, pretty radical. But maybe that is just what we have been called to do. I think some "Christians" get more persecution about their sports team than they do about their Savior.
Fourth, Maybe We Are Not As Strong On The Gospel As We Should Be. There is the possibility that we are more like Americans than Christians. Maybe we have softened some of words of the gospel and are content with them being cute sayings on our coffee mugs or t-shirts instead of our life.
If you want to listen to the full message, you can find it HERE. It is my prayer that we don't quit. We don't stop living our faith. But that we keep going! And the message of the gospel is what we need to keep living the Christian life. We are worse than we think we are. But Jesus is so much greater than we could ever think or imagine.
QUESTION: What Do You Think Are The Key Components To Living An Authentic Faith?