Adventure: Week Four
The overall theme for this week and last is “community creates purpose.” These letters testify to the vital importance of the communities of faith that were scattered all over the Greco-Roman world in the first generation of gospel preaching.
One of the appealing characteristics of the Biblica arrangement of the New Testaments we are reading is that this week, after finishing the amazing story Luke tells about Paul’s missionary activities, we begin reading Paul’s epistles, perhaps in the chronological order in which they were written.
Most importantly, the epistles describe for us what happens when the Jesus story is told in a variety of cultural contexts – all different from the one in which Jesus lived. When we read them, perhaps we should always have in mind the idea that when the Jesus story is shared, something happens!
The text from 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 identified for this week is a great example of that. Telling the Jesus story has implications for every aspect of our lives and it is in the community of faith “committed to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer” (last week’s key text) that we gain strength to model Jesus to the world.
These kingdom outposts, like the one in Thessalonica, left behind in the wake of the apostles and others telling the Jesus story, provide a great laboratory for each of us to explore the implications of discovering who Jesus is and then trying to determine what difference He makes.
As you read, and hopefully find someone to have a conversation with about this week’s reading, ask the following questions.
- Did you notice Paul’s commending the believers in Thessalonica for their “works of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope?”
- Our key text says that God’s will for us is sanctification. Paul’s example of that is “flee sexual immorality.” How is that relevant for our culture?
- If you could pick one story in the reading from Acts that we did this week to be your favorite, which one would it be? Why?
- What have you learned this week about loving God and loving your neighbors?