This week I was reading through 1 Thessalonians and came across this verse, “Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, TNIV) This is a part of Paul’s final instructions in the letter for his church in Thessalonica, and is written to a church known to have a number of new believers in it. Paul as their pastor is seeking to teach the new believers what Christian community looks like so they can embody it themselves. Take a moment, and reread these verses from Paul, hear Paul the pastor pleading with and encouraging his new community to take up these words, to embody this as a church.
Envision what this might look like for you. “Rejoice always.” Pay attention to your conversations this week and see if you hear fellow Christians rejoicing always. Paul is not suggesting that they need to always put on a happy face, but to be aware of all that God is doing all around you. Take a moment at the end of the day to ask this question of yourself or others, “How have I (or you) seen God at work today? What has happened today that is especially life giving?” It is amazing the power of remembrance, of taking a moment to think about that basic question. Suddenly we remember and notice the work of God all around us that we may have missed before.
“Pray continually.” Prayer is not simply a set of words that we use with our eyes closed in a dark room, but can be a conversation with God that continues throughout our days. Take a moment this week to pray for your pastor, that God would grant me discernment as I seek to lead Trinity, pray as we approach of 50th anniversary that God would use this as a opportunity to share fellowship with old friends and with new ones. Pray for our visitors who have been joining us in worship week after week, pray that God might meet them in a real and powerful way at our church, and pray that we might encourage them and help them grow in their faith.
Paul’s central point is that we are called to build up the body of Christ in all that we do. The body of Christ at its best builds up one another in our faith. We encourage one another of how we see God at work in our own and in one another’s lives. We cover one another in pray during the good times and the bad. We encourage each other to use our gifts for God’s glory, to build up and serve this body of believers.