Superb article by Martin Downes.
For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.
– 1 Thessalonians 1:8 (ESV)
Paul is thankful for the Thessalonians. In the verse above he is explaining the fact that they have become imitators of Paul and the others so that they have become examples to the other believers.
The effect is astounding. The word has gone out from them in turn. Also their faith has gone out. I am taking this to mean that there are new believers all over the surrounding region as a result of their witness. This is a missionary-minded church because of the gospel they received.
The front page of the Times last Saturday had an article by Ruth Gledhill discussing a recent report by the C of E in which the writers complain of the secularism of the government to the detriment of the place of the Church in England. I have not read the report, nor am I likely to, but my first thought was, “At last they are beginning to stand up!” However, I believe that was a wrong response.
When any church declines and finds itself in trouble the reason is never some outsider’s agenda, worldview, opposition. The reason is always internal. The church has got lazy or willfully negligent of doctrine, has a heart that lust after other things, other idols and the glory of God has departed.
On the whole the church has no place because it has lost its way, lost its message, lost its first love. It is seen as increasingly irrelevant to to the world because it has nothing of substance to say.
When this happens the answer is not to start trumpeting how much of a ‘contribution’ it makes, as this report does, so that everyone, especially the government, should take notice. Rather the realisation of its irrelevancy should drive them (and every other Christian too) to their knees in repentance.