Monday, January 14, 2019

How Are You Living

How Are You Living
January 14, 2019
1 Thessalonians 4:1 "As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more."

Paul set up churches on his missionary journeys, staying there for a while and then moving on when they were established. He would then check up on them, sending them letters of admonishment or encouragement (of which we have most of them recorded in the Bible). To the Thessalonians, he was insecure about their lifestyle, with rumors they were starting to fall into temptation. Paul wrote a huge letter of encouragement to them, telling them to keep on going, to stay strong in the faith, to move to the next level in their Christianity. He cared so deeply about them and wanted to make sure they were staying on the right course.

Unlike the early churches, who were left by themselves because they were so new and so radical for the day, we have many success stories around us, of church bodies who are doing things right. We also use those other church bodies as examples to emulate, if they are doing things correctly. The early churches did not have anything to compare to, a standard to live up to. To be honest, the early churches didn't really know what they were doing; it was a path they were pioneering, with Paul their guide who had moved on to start other churches. Some of the churches he set up had no clue what they were doing, with some of them failing. If they failed, it was due to a lack of leadership and accountability, a lack of encouragement. Paul's letters were meant to stave some of this off.

But Paul's letters are available to us now, and the words he said to those early churches still applies to Christianity today. For the Thessalonians, he reminded them of the original instructions, the standards for living, to make sure their lifestyles aligned with the guidelines. He wrote to them to check in on them, to hear a report on how they were doing because the rumors were they had fallen into temptation. He wanted a report. If you were to give a report on your life and lifestyle, to publicly weigh it against Scripture and score yourself, what kind of a grade would you get? You, as a Christian, know the truth and know the standard the Lord requires of you in daily living. Are you living up to it? Are you living how you know you are supposed to be living?

My guess is that you have not turned your back to the point of following the evil one, but are not living to your fullest potential nor to even the highest standard you once have attained. This is how the first churches traveled down the slippery slope. This is also how most churches today fall asleep. You, if you are like the rest of us humans, have probably compromised in an area or two, reasoning that 80 percent is good enough, why be an over achiever? What profit is there to live 100 percent when it is kind of hard to do?  Paul's letters to the church were to point out that no one could ever reach 100 percent and if you did, you'd just realize you still were not at 100 percent. There is always further to go in your Christian walk, living up to the standard that you've already attained.

What areas are you compromising? What areas have you ceased to improve upon? Paul knew the early church was not living up to their fullest potential, with his encouragement meant to sustain them from falling back further. He knew they weren't at the level he had left them in; he knew they had compromised a little. It takes encouragement to move beyond your statues quo and sometimes church leadership is so focused on keeping Christians from falling backward that they don't have the energy to propel them forward, to the next level. You need that challenge, that motivator to help take your Christianity to the next level, but you may not be getting that encouragement from your church pastor. It's not time to leave the church, its time to evaluate yourself with maturity and get back to doing it correctly, to identify what you've compromised on and live your Christianity to the fullest.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Phil 3:16, 1 Thes 4:1-9

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