For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 ESV)
When Paul started the church in Thessalonica what gave his message and ministry credibility was the kind of men he and his team proved to be while living among the Thessalonians. Displaying Jesus happens best when we “do life” among people. There’s a common cliche that becoming a follower of Jesus is caught as much as it is taught, and there’s a great deal of truth to this.
Nothing replaces the opportunity for others to see how Jesus influences the real routine of our lives: family, friendships, work, recreation, trials, and even the mundane issues we deal with like shopping for groceries or mowing the grass. This requires two things:
- For God’s Holy Spirit to be living and active in our lives.
- For us to live among other people with intentionality.
Paul shares the depth of this intentionality in 1 Thessalonians 2:8: “we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” Paul cared enough to open his life up to the Thessalonians. Paul wanted them to see the “real Paul” and the real impact of the good news of Jesus in his life. Displaying this level of transparency and vulnerability is not the norm in our modern American culture, but a necessary step if we want people to see the difference Jesus has made in our lives. This also involves having “real” relationships with non-Christians and being open and honest with them when life gets messy.
How can you be more intentional about opening your life to others so they can see the real you and how Jesus is at work in your life?