“…with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.” —I Thessalonians 2:2b
The MESSAGE of the messenger is always inseparably linked to the LIFE of the messenger. This is one reason why God repeatedly tells his people (us) to “be holy because I am holy”—God IS the “good news” we want to share—and we can’t properly, convincingly communicate the message of a holy, loving God apart from living (imperfectly) holy, loving lives.
Pastor Russell begins week two (in series) of pleading for the ‘return of the church’ to faithfully waiting for the ‘return of Christ” by saying, “Since Jesus will return, our lives must provide evidence that our message is true.”
This is a vitally important reality that we can’t miss—our lives must be evidential (to our message). In other words, if we are to persuade the world around us to trust in Jesus as ‘Savior from sin’ and ‘God to worship,’ and to join us in faithfully waiting for his promised RETURN, then our LIVES must speak as loudly and compellingly as our words.
Arguably, for most of us, we are our own worst enemies here—as we fumble, and bumble to crucify our flesh, to gain victory in this area, or that area of our character or behavior; and to live a life that is integrous to our message. We can relate with Paul in Romans 7 when he said, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!” —Romans 7:24-25
But we do need to be (soberly) mindful of “outside” enemies—ie: Satan & a hostile world around us. One of the oldest tricks in the book is to attack the message BY attacking the messenger. This is what Paul was facing in I Thessalonians 2—the GOSPEL MESSAGE was turning the world upside down, and the enemies of the gospel were having little success in hindering its spread (despite stirring up a riot), so they set about to undermine the gospel by maliciously attacking the character and motives of the messenger, Paul—accusing him of things like trickery & deception for the sake of financial gain, of using flattery as “a mask to cover up greed.”
Realizing that we have enemies out there—even among our circle of friends, at work, in our neighborhood, or within our own family, who would seek to undermine our MESSAGE by attacking our LIFE—helps us appreciate, all the more, the importance of earnestly living above reproach in all we say and do.
Paul is our example, and time and time again, when his LIFE was attacked, he could simply point people back to consider the evidence of his life, saying things like “You know (from personal experience of us) brothers,” and “Surely you remember, brothers,” and “You are witnesses, and so is God.”
When our lives are evidential (not perfect, but testimonial) to the truthfulness of our message (of God’s saving/sanctifying love in our lives)—then we can simply point people to our lives (when slandered), and say, “see for yourselves—who I am, who “HE” is, in me.” When we’re faithful to do our part (in His strength), we can rest assured that God will do his part—in convicting and persuading a world ‘apart from Him’ to turn to Him for salvation.
Peter reminds us of this very same truth when he says, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” I Peter 2:12
See you Sunday, for week 3 of “pleading for the ‘return of the church’ to faithfully waiting for the ‘return of Christ.’”