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(Part 12)


August 22, 2011
Today’s reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10

Today’s reading gives us many aspects of evangelization, which is our basic work.

First of all, why are we called to a work of evangelization? It is because we are “loved by God” and are “chosen” (1 Thes 1:4). The greatest work in the world is to bring God’s salvation to others, and God gives us this privilege because He loves us so much, that He allows us to do divine work, to continue the very work of His Son Jesus in bringing salvation to His people. Among the many who are called to faith in Christ, we are chosen in particular to become those instruments through whom He will show His glory.

Second, this very wonderful work of evangelization is about the three theological virtues.

  • It is a “work of faith” (1 Thes 1:3b). Evangelization brings people to faith in Jesus, where they recognize and accept him as Savior and Lord.
  • It is a “labor of love” (1 Thes 1:3c). Evangelization is about the very love of God, by which He sent His own Son into the world in order to win for us our salvation. We in turn live out our love for neighbor by helping bring Christ into their lives.
  • It is about “endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes 1:3d). Evangelization is about the hope that we have, that through the saving act of Jesus, we will be fully restored to our Father and make it to eternal life in heaven.

Being God’s own work, we need to be conformed to His mind and heart. Thus there are distinctive aspects to what would be considered a proper posture for evangelizers.

  • We must have gratitude in our hearts. Jesus became man and died for us, even when we were sinners. Now God gives us the privilege to continue Jesus’ work and bring that salvation into the lives of many others. Thus “we give thanks to God always” (1 Thes 1:2a).
  • We must be prayerful. We pray unceasingly, as we are totally dependent upon God for the fruitfulness of our work. Being divine work, it is through prayer that we entrust to God all those whom we evangelize. We always remember our brethren in our prayers (1 Thes 1:2b)
  • We work as a team. Each one has a gift from God, and when the different gifts are put together in the one work of evangelization, that is very powerful and effective. We look to our brethren and “unceasingly (call) to mind” our brethren’s work (1 Thes 1:2c-3a).
  • As evangelization also includes modeling, for those older in the Lord to show the way to the newly evangelized, we are mindful of how we live as witnesses to God’s love. We imitate the Lord and those among our leaders (1 Thes 1:6a) who manifest holiness. Then, as we grow in our own righteousness, we ourselves become models for all the believers (1 Thes 1:7).
  • We realize we engage in spiritual warfare when we evangelize, and the enemy fights back and attacks us. God in turn allows oppression and persecution for our own purification and maturing in the faith. Thus we receive “the word in great affliction” (1 Thes 1:6b). But we know that the greater the affliction, the greater God’s purposes for our lives.
  • Given such a great privilege from God to stand in His place, we always have “joy from the holy Spirit” (1 Thes 1:6c). Whatever is happening, whether we are up or down, we are always rejoicing.

Now how do we proclaim the gospel?

  • We are witnesses, not “in word alone” (1 Thes 1:5a) but more especially in deed.
  • We work “in power” (1 Thes 1:5b), since the work is that of a powerful God and we are mere instruments, servants through whom He shows His glory.
  • We work “in the holy Spirit” (1 Thes 1:5c), who is the Sanctifier, leading us to holiness, and the one who sends us out on mission.
  • We work “with much conviction” (1 Thes 1:5d), rejoicing in the privilege, and knowing that God has made Himself dependent upon His people to bring His good news to many others. We endure and we persevere through the challenges of the work, realizing how important and crucial this work truly is.

When we allow ourselves to be God’s instruments to bring His good news of salvation to others, the results are amazing.

  • There is profound transformation of lives. There is repentance. We reject a life in the world to take on a life in the Lord. We let go of the idols in our lives, whether that be money, pleasure or other. We turn “to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thes 1:9b).
  • We become evangelizers, proclaimers of the good news throughout the world. We go into the day-to-day environments of our lives to reach people, and as a community we go to the ends of the earth. “For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth not only in Macedonia and in Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has gone forth” (1 Thes 1:8).
  • We welcome and support missionaries, who are at the front lines of our evangelistic work. We care for them, we are hospitable to them, we pray for them. “For they themselves openly declare about us what sort of reception we had among you” (1 Thes 1:9a).
  • We look forward to the fruit of our evangelization, which is to make it to heaven when Jesus returns once again. We “await his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath.” (1 Thes 1:10).

What an awesome work evangelization is! It is the very work of God. How beautiful indeed are the feet of those who bring good news. May we all recognize the greatness of our calling, and give even more of ourselves to this work.

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