Christian authenticity

Peter Paul Rubens, “Landscape with an Avenue of Trees”


1 Thes. 1:1-10

For Sunday, October 19, 2008
Proper 24

One concept that appeals to many Christians today is the notion of being authentic. By authentic I mean being Christians in a way which reflects the reality of the gospel. We want to be authentic Christians who are members of authentic churches pursuing authentic ministry. Yet what does this really look like? 1 Thes. 1:1-10 paints a portrait that reveals Christian authenticity from several aspects.

A first aspect of Christian authenticity is a community that is aware of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Note how in verse 1 and 2 Paul, the author of 1 Thessalonians, is aware of both the Father’s and Son’s contributions to his relationship with his readers. Note then also in v. 5 he then references the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Do our lives and congregations reflect similar awareness of each member of the Trinity? If not, who is missing, and why might this be? If so, do we sense the same kind of energy pulsing through our community that is pulsing through chapter 1 of this letter?

A second aspect of Christian authenticity is service characterized by faith, hope, and love. Paul says, “We continually 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 (v. 3).” The most exciting church experiences I’ve had have come from being part of a dynamic community in which faith, hope, and love are present together. Father, let me work, labor, and endure with the faith, love, and hope of these Thessalonian believers.

A third aspect of Christian authenticity is proclamation framed not only by words, but also with power, the Spirit, and deep conviction (v. 5). Is my church proclaiming Christ not only in word, but also in power, the Spirit, and with deep conviction? If not, what is God calling me to do toward moving in this direction?

Beyond these three are two more aspects that can’t adequately be covered in detail. A fourth aspect of Christian authenticity is leadership marked by incarnation, modeling, suffering, joy, and reproduction (vv. 6,7). A fifth aspect of Christian authenticity is faith characterized by repentance, service, and waiting on the Lord (vv. 8-10).

Let’s examine each of these aspects of Christian authenticity – our experience of community, our service, our proclamation, our leadership, and our faith. May these verses affirm our own Christian authenticity where it exists and point the way ahead where we are deficient, that we might know and and rejoice in the genuineness of the authentic gospel.

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