We Have No Concept
We don’t really understand what it was like back in the days of the early church – on many different levels. For one, it’s hard for us to even imagine what it was like 20 years ago before computers had really taken off. It’s hard for us to imagine not being able to instantly get in touch with someone, even on the other side of the world. We also don’t understand the immense persecution the early church dealt with. Their lives were at risk for the sake of the gospel, and they continued to risk them daily so that the gospel would advance. It wasn’t just the apostles and leaders who suffered persecution because of the Faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it was the average church member as well. That’s why we have prayers like this one:
They called on God for the encouragement of togetherness.
We pray earnestly night and day to see you in person and make up what may be lacking in your faith. (1 Thes. 3:10)
Can you imagine what Paul would think of our culture? He longed to be with the Thessalonians, and here we have things like Skype and FaceTime where we can talk to someone face to face around the world. Can you imagine what Paul would think of us, considering just how easy we have it? Sure, we face persecution of different kinds. But, the last time I checked none of us has been tarred and feathered, locked in stocks, beheaded, or crucified upside down because of what we believe. I have a suspicion that there would be a great deal of disappointment from Paul.
Why would he be disappointed? Well, first, he may be excited about just how far the Gospel has traveled. But, I imagine that if he were to see just how few hinderances we really have now when it comes to sharing our faith – and yet to see that most of us just don’t do anything at all to try to advance the Gospel…When you contrast that with all the early church went through…I don’t imagine we’d be getting a pat on the back.
In fact, I’ve wondered what Paul would write to our church today if He were still around writing letters. What would it say?
They longed to be together because they wanted to encourage one another in the faith. They wanted to make up for what might be lacking in their faith. They wanted to do this because they wanted to make sure the Gospel was secure and advancing in the face of the persecution and affliction the church was facing. I picture more like the troops in Saving Private Ryan and how they felt when the reinforcements actually arrived. It wasn’t like Paul was just wanting to go and have dinner and spend a few nights with them. Everything Paul did was for the mission.
Can we way the same?
The Three for Morning, Afternoon and Evening.
“Now for Next” Prayer
What do we need to do now as a church to be ready for what God has for us next.
“What’s My Role” Prayer
Pray for God to show us the role we will play individually in accomplishing that mission.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.