Over Very Lives



“We were glad to share not only God’s good news with you but also our very lives because we cared for you so much.”
1 Thessalonians 2:8

This verse has haunted me (in a good way) for years now. Here Paul recalls how he and those ministering with him fell into relationship with the various people who together became the church in the ancient city of Thessalonica. Paul and his companions preached the Gospel and brought others into the knowledge and love of God in Jesus Christ through the everyday labors and activities that marked life in the city. They came not as traveling evangelists expecting pay and praise, but as those willing to get their hands dirty, to work and make their own way as they developed close relationships and entered into the lives of those they met. It was a spiritual life forged in the intimacy of shared space, shared time, shared tables; real life stuff. It happened, we might say, organically.

Here in this one little verse, Paul casts a remarkable vision for evangelism that names our life together in Christ as something much deeper than a sermon, a worship service, or a healthy personal prayer life. We were glad, Paul recounts, not only to share God’s good news in Jesus Christ with you, but also our very lives, for through these shared moments, we have come to care deeply for you.

What Paul names here is the Christian practice of holy friendship, lives that Jesus has intertwined through the ordinariness of life so that love may abound. This is the church at its best, a community held together by the Spirit of Christ, committed to one another in the common mission of lavishing love and transforming needs in the literal space where God continued has called us together. People are not problems to be fixed, and they cannot be reduced needs that we meet and then move on. People bear the image of God, and we meet God in the face of others. The people whom God places in our lives and into our care are equals, potential friendships, game -changers in the journey of faith we share.

Wherever Paul invested himself, he discovered that everyone in and of themselves was a gift from the heart of God, and that every person he encountered possessed gifts that made the love of God real for him and for the wider community in which they lived. Together, their shared life imaged Jesus Christ to the world around them.

As I reflect on these last six years and what they have meant for my family and me, I think about this one verse from 1 Thessalonians. We have become holy friends, invested in each other’s well-being, invested in the mission of Jesus Christ. We have set out into the community to find people whom God already loves who can be gifts to us even as we learn how to be gifts to them. We have worshipped and loved and cried and baptized and met each other at Christ’s table. We have imaged Christ to one another. And I hope in the process we have enlarged that table to include others.

May we as Christ’s body continue to share our very lives because we care so much for each other, because we care so much that others come to the knowledge and love of God that claims us as beloved children and partners in this life.

-Pastor Patrick


Last Published: May 3, 2021 9:14 AM
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