1:3 We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thess

I have become quite captivated by what is probably the oldest description we have of the church which is contained in 1 Thessalonians 1. In fact, just the one verse has been playing on my mind. I have been trying to think why the ethos created by living by faith, being known for love and being a voice of hope creates so much spiritual energy and direction in a community of believers?

I thought I would run by you part of my thinking about that to see what you think. I am wondering whether this ethos makes such an impact because it controls where a church focuses its attention and priorities. It seems for many of the churches I know, the main focus is on themselves. Now no church actually comes out and says that but when you look at the decisions that the church makes it soon becomes pretty clear that the main motivation in their decision making processes is, themselves. They generally make decisions based on what suits them, what will be best for them perhaps financially etc.

Now it seems to me that faith, hope and love redirects our focus as individuals and churches away from ourselves. When we live by faith, our focus is on God. When we are living to build a reputation for love, our focus is on others. We become a voice of hope when we focus on the Kingdom of God rather than our immediate circumstances or what our culture expects or demands. So faith, hope and love create outwardly focused Christians and churches and so act as the antidote to a selfish self absorption with our own well being or self interest. You cannot be self interested and live by faith in the God of Scripture. You cannot be selfish if you are becoming known for love and you cannot be self absorbed if you are voicing the hope embodied in the Kingdom of God.

So one of the reasons that at every opportunity I am going to remind myself and us a body of believers that we are called to live by faith, be known for love and be a voice of hope is so that we focus our attention and energy in the direction that it should be focused, outwardly, on God, on others and on the Kingdom of God.

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