“We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”—1 Thessalonians 1:3 (NIV)
Have you ever been to an art exhibition? The eye catching feature in such exhibitions is normally the paintings that hang on the walls.
Beautiful as they may be, a lot goes into producing such paintings.
Have you thought about what it would be like if a beautiful painting—perhaps an award winning painting—remained unhanged?
And how would it win any award without being hanged? Still, how will it be seen if it is not hanged? And greater still, how will it be awarded without being seen?
I think, if you are with me, you can see that it’s never about a great painting alone.
It’s never about the artist who painted it alone.
It’s never about the brilliant colour selection and blend alone.
It’s never about the beautiful picture frame alone.
There is more to art paintings than meets the naked eye.
In the background, there is the picture hook that keeps the beautiful painting suspended up on the wall for everyone to see it for the beautiful painting that it is.
Without the picture hook, we wouldn’t see beautiful painting. Without it, the painting wouldn’t be nominated. Without it, the painting wouldn’t win any awards. It’s that simple.
Looking at our scripture text today, notice what the writers are saying: that the work of the church in Thessalonica is produced by faith, labour prompted by love and endurance inspired by their hope in Jesus Christ.
What the text is saying is that their work, endurance and labour are produced in them in spite of them. That the fruits produced in them by the gospel, have come from seeds outside of them, in God himself.
If you were a wall painting, this world in which you walk would be the wall on which the painting hangs and the picture hooks the faith, love and hope in Christ which suspends the painting up on the wall.
Why is this so? Verse 5 says: “because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”
That gospel which produced fruits in the church at Thessalonica is present today. When Martin Luther discovered Romans 1:16, it set him free and brought the Reformation to the church. Because the gospel is indeed the power of God unto salvation for whoever believes.
The Good News is that the powerful gospel is available to produce in us the work, labour and endurance that God desires.
We don’t discover the power of gospel by being hard working and enduring, rather the powerful gospel discovers us in order to make us hard working, loving, labouring, and enduring—by faith alone—which is a gift of God.
My prayer is that the powerful gospel will discover and rediscover us to wreck us and set us free in a brighter and brand new way.
That is your Lifeline, AMEN.