Read This Week: 1 Thessalonians 2
On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. – 1 Thessalonians 2:4, 13
The phrase “professional Christian” is used to explain the faith walk of those who say they know Christ but consistently display a stark contrast to the person of Jesus and his teachings. It describes someone who can talk a big game but doesn’t match it with action. A professional Christian is more about doing things than being someone.
Paul was making this point in 1 Thessalonians 2 because people were claiming that he and his friends were preaching the gospel for personal gain and notoriety. He protects the integrity of the work they were doing by proving he was not a professional Christian. He had not merely acquired knowledge of an occupation nor was he doing it as a job. The change in his life was profound and these verses show clearly that Paul and his team never ministered for personal gain or self-centered pursuits. They were real, authentic, and operated out of their relationship with Jesus as they rested in the truth and power of God’s Word.
We have to constantly check ourselves like Paul especially in the face of a world that is skeptical of us but still desperately needs Christ. We should know God’s word, not for the purposes of looking smart, but so it will change us and inform our lives. So it will also help us avoid using harmful clichés that distort and restrict the truth.
We shouldn’t be looking to gain certain information about God so we can follow a faith system that will benefit us in this life. We are not to be professional Christians that use religious language and posture at social functions to impress people. We should be without pretense and consistent with what we do when no one is watching.
If our faith is real we won’t quote the moral, relational and ethical teachings of Christ while being dishonest and abusive in every arena. We won’t throw out terms like prayer, God’s will, and grace to justify poor or hasty decisions, bad behavior, and sin. We won’t exploit tragedy or religious things for monetary or political gain. We won’t talk about the problems in the world, the church, with other Christians and neighbors but deflect and avoid perceivable issues in ourselves. We won’t call obedience and Scriptural responsibility, legalism while embracing traditions, rules, and icon worship when it suits our agenda. We won’t depend on family heritage and church affiliation to get into Heaven. We will understand the Gospel and how faith in Jesus saved us and can rescue others.
This is what Jesus was praying for his followers in John 17:16-20. This is what he desires for us in this present day. He didn’t pray for us to be good at Christianity, he prayed for us to be faithful and obedient. He prayed for us to authentically follow him. He said, “They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is the truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.”
Authentic Christianity results from the right relationship to God and his truth. If we are living out the Gospel, we won’t be dishonest, two-faced or a mere professional. We will try to please God with our lives more than people. We’ll be more like Jesus.
It’s such an awesome privilege and responsibility to represent God, share the Gospel, bring God to people and people to God. He empowers you for this great work and to live a victorious life. God is saying to me, “I have commissioned you for our good work and as a team, we accomplish great things.” How is God using you today?
God is holding my hand and helping me start to bring the Gospel to my family and truly help give them spiritual empowerment. It allows them to be their best selves and start to see how God is always here with us and its up to us to listen and accept Him in our hearts and souls. Doing so makes life meaningful and allows us to grow in our spiritual nature.
I think we are all susceptible to the trap of professional Christianity. It seems to be born out of a misunderstanding of the Gospel and its power to not only save and change but to sustain us in life. The Gospel is authentic and when we live out the Gospel, it makes us authentic. It brings out the characteristics of a true Christ-follower. It allows us to be real and avoid the tendencies, behaviors, and lifestyle of a professional as well as the temptation to go through the motions as a believer.
I find this to really resonate with me. So many tend to fall into the “trap” as you mention where they recite things just for the sake of reciting things, but with no love or emotion behind it. They do what they “think” should be done rather than actually connecting with God and living with Him day in and day out. Getting to know God and building a relationship with God is the epitome of growing as a human and a Christian. Recognizing that allows to divert from that mundane path before it starts and get closer to God.
I agree, Javaid. Often what we think God is saying to us and to others is not exactly what God is saying at all. The Bible says something and has a distinct meaning and we can definitely fall into the trap as we go through the motions of making it say what we want it to or ignoring the truth altogether. I know I can be guilty of this.
It takes moral courage, humility, and grace to submit to God’s word and to do that on a regular basis so the journey doesn’t become mundane or worse yet, routine in the wrong direction.
In church today, God impressed upon me His great love for us and willingness to help us succeed. Success with God comes when you respond to His call and continue to respond to His instructions thereafter. It’s all about really getting to know Jesus and learning to trust I’m with every area of you life. God is a perfect father and can relate to you in so many different was, through His three persons and through the family of God.
As a Christian, there are so many benefits to enjoy and God loves you so much that He makes them available to you. I want to challenge you to get to know Jesus more. It is the best thing you can ever do!
In this Chapter, the Gospel won’t always please man but it was pleasing to God. Paul’s needs for security and acceptance came from his relationship with Jesus, not from the praise of people. What God was saying to me through all of this was “Don’t spend your life trying to seek and earn the acceptance of man. People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. A worthy goal for you is to live a life that declares how devoutly and justly and blamelessly you behave yourself with others. This draws others to follow my son Jesus for themselves. ”
Acceptance is something I think we all struggle with. It’s hard when you have experienced a lot of rejection. I have to remember that what I do in being Gods hands and feet with others is to please Him and not to seek praise from others. I am grateful to be a work in progress, as long as it leads back to Him.
Thank you for sharing Kathy. That was awesome. It’s so true when people see we are putting God first, getting what we need from Him first, they will see that they need God. They will begin to understand that they can come to us to hear the truth so we can direct them to God. if they don’t know God, we can share the good news of how much God loves them and wants a personal relationship with them too.
We bless God’s heart when we seek to please Him first and then we can reach out to others for the right reasons. It’s a blessing to know we’re in a work in progress and to know that God is always with us and ready to help as we seek Him first.
I love this thought, Heidi. The thought and truth that if we seek God first, He always equips and empowers us to be what we’re supposed to be for others. If we can only let God lead us to not put the cart before the horse in these scenarios, we’ll be prepared to please God in all of our dealings with man. Good stuff.
So glad to hear from you on a week in the life Kathy. Many times people pleasing is an act to seek acceptance and approval from others. Really knowing Jesus, gives you what you need to be fulfilled, God’s love, joy and peace. God is saying, “when you seek me, I give you what you need “
I want to encourage you Kathy, to share again this week. We love hearing God through you.
Hey, Kathy. Welcome to A Week in the Life blog! We appreciate you commenting and your insight on this important topic. It is so true that the fear of man and our tendency to seek approval from others is one of the great hazards to walking with God and seeking to live out His truth. That deep human need for acceptance and significance is something only God can ultimately fill, yet we constantly sidestep Him for others in the search for significance.
I like what you said there: “I am grateful to be a work in progress, as long as it leads back to Him.” I am grateful for this too because I am often left broken and unsatisfied in my attempts to gain man’s approval, but it always leads me back to the heart of God and his loving, accepting arms that comfort and encourage. Then, I am empowered and inspired to do what pleases Him.
Thank you to everyone for all the comments. We are all in this journey together!
Thank you, Kathy! I am really enjoying your insight and comments. Please keep joining the conversation with us.
This is such an important message for current and future followers of Christ. I agree with you all saying we can often times misinterpret the Gospel. Additionally, I feel we come across situations where we can sometimes be challenged for proof within the text. I believe we can often fall into the trap of trying to prove our beliefs if pushed enough. It is important to maintain this thought of authenticity with our faith. Living by example can spread the true light of God’s nature, whether that be showing love or doing good deeds. Actions speak louder than words. We may often times get caught in the whirlwind of secular approval. We must discover our own truth in order to properly grow with those around us.
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