This was originally written in 2006... and I was preaching through 1st Thessalonians verse by verse. (For those of you who care, it's called "expository preaching".) In the process, I "jumped" past a few verses - but felt like I needed to cover them in some way - and so this article/blog post was written.
Those of you who've been following along with my message series on 1st Thessalonians (Overloaded) may notice this week that I skipped some verses between last week's message & this week. (Or you may not have noticed until I pointed it out - oh well.)
Either way, I want to take just a moment to comment on 1 Thessalonians 3:9-10:
How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy in the presence of God. Night & day we pray earnestly for you, asking God to let us see you again to fill up anything that may be still missing in your faith. (New Living Translation)
I don't know about you guys, but there are some days when my faith feels like it's missing something... or lacking something. Or, if I want to be bluntly honest (and that's not a given, people), I feel like my faith is the 90 pound weakling of faith. Other faiths come along & kick sand on it and takes the good-looking girl away by flexing their faith muscles, while my faith lays there on the beach towel, dreaming of whatever the faith equivalent of a workout program might do.
So, why doesn't Paul (or somebody like him, since the Apostle Paul's been dead about 2000 years) show up and...
- "supply what is lacking in [my] faith" (NIV)
- "mend and make good whatever may be imperfect and lacking in [my] faith" (Amplified)
And then I have to dope slap myself - God has been sending me Paul (yep, even though he's deader than a doornail) to me since I was old enough to read. All I have to do is walk across the room and pick up a copy of the Bible. (If I'm really desperate, I can check myself into a cheap motel & swipe the Gideon Bible in the bedside stand.) Either way, I have access to 66 profoundly spiritual books compiled into one easy-to-carry volume.
As if that weren't enough, it's stunningly easy get "face-2-face" with a diverse crew of people who walked with God, thanks to the magic of Guttenberg's printing press. Everyone from the Bishop of Hippo (Augustine) to a guy who worked in a monastery kitchen (Brother Lawrence) to a Oxford professor of medieval literature (C.S. Lewis) can "walk with me" through their writings.
Finally, God did this crazy thing & created "the church" - not some monolithic bureaucracy but instead local groups of people who'd surrendered their lives to Him and were/are trying to live all of their lives in the light of God's grace & love. Which means that there are ready-made crews of people who want to do just what Paul talked about - "fill up anything that may still be missing in [my] faith." I just have to go and get involved.
My problem isn't a lack of options to grow & mature in my faith... it's a lack of follow through to enjoy the stuff God is sending me by the truckload.
Quotes of the Week
God loves each of us as if there were only one of us. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo
We must know before we can love. In order to know God, we must often think of Him. And when we come to love Him, we shall then also think of Him often, for our heart will be with our treasure. . Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
Though our feelings come & go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity