What church in the New Testament stands out as the model for the rest? This question was asked during a church growth seminar. It was no surprise that no one attempted to give the church in Corinth that honor.
Understandably, everyone said it was the infant church in Jerusalem, described in Acts 2:42-47. But to the apostle Paul, the church in Thessalonica was the model church. He told them, "You have become an example [model, NIV] to all the believers in Greece, throughout both Macedonia and Achaia" (1 Thessalonians 1:7). The church in Thessalonica was characterized by "faithful work, loving deeds," and the "enduring hope" (v.3). The believers boldly proclaimed the good news to people everywhere, even beyond their own country (v.8). They were a model church because they served the Lord faithfully, loved each other deeply, and expectantly longed to see the Lord at His second coming (vv.9-10). They lived changed lives, so radically altered that people felt the impact. Their godly behavior and Christlike conduct (v.6) were doing the talking. Their 100-percent commitment to God is noticed and talked about (vv.8-9). Indeed, they had "turned the world upside down" (Acts 17:6 NKJV).
Paul celebrated the fact that they exhibited a lifestyle produced by faith, a labor motivated by love, and a steadfastness anchored in hope (1 Thessalonians 3). These virtues are indispensable and unmistakable trail markers of Christian growth and maturity. They are like a compass for the maturing Christian, providing direction for the way to go. Believers in Jesus should often evaluate their own faith, love, and hope.
Why? Because Paul said these virtues are eternal. "Three things will last forever, faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13). What are you modeling to others? , K.T. Sim
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