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1 Thessalonians 1:4-10

4 We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 in that our gospel did not come to you merely in words, but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction (surely you recall the character we displayed when we came among you to help you). 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, when you received the message with joy that comes from the Holy Spirit, despite great affliction. 7 As a result you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For from you the message of the Lord has echoed forth not just in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place reports of your faith in God have spread, so that we do not need to say anything. 9 For people everywhere report how you welcomed us and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath.

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

12 And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we do for you, 13 so that your hearts are strengthened in holiness to be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

These Scriptures make my heart ache for simpler times when humankind seemed less busy and fellowship more common.  We stare numbly at our devices that keep us moving – and I speak to myself here, too.  Sure, we attend church weekly, and maybe another church event or two, but hanging out together?  Not as often as I used to in the past.  Does anyone identify with me on this?  People are too busy to get together, citing “ministry” as the cause.  The man who isolates himself loses all sound judgment, according to Proverbs 18:1, but we do not think that applies to us, surrounded by “to do’s” and passing people by day in and day out, we are not alone – or are we?  But somewhere in the quiet, a still small voice is a call to simplicity again.

A time when our agendas were not our idols or taskmasters.  A time when we did not have multiple things scheduled simultaneously.  A time when we could get together with another family and not have to feel entertained – just the company was enough – ok, and maybe a Scrabble board game.

I am struck by the clear message of the impact of discipleship in the verses above.  It is “doing life together” that sharpens one another – even when we disagree – and makes us more like Christ.  It is not finding someone who is identical to you, who will be a “yes man” who will grow you in Christ as much as it is someone who loves you enough to call out sin in your life and walk beside you while you together obtain the victory in Christ.

We all fall short of the glory of God, and need to resist the formation of “cliques” that exclude other believers and breed a sense of self righteousness.  We are all sinners, saved by grace, and desperately need one another, lest we lose sight of the vision Christ has given us.  This world desperately needs to see believers, assured of their calling, working together and loving one another.  United, there is no greater witness on this earth.  Divided, there is no worse witness on this earth.

Lord, help us to seek You together and to care for one another sincerely.  Help us to manage the time you have given well – for Your glory and Your purposes.  To us who are feeling isolated, bring friends into our lives who are willing to walk through life together.  To us too busy to notice – draw us back to a simple faith in You, surrounded by fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

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