UNUSUAL CHURCHES? They are all around us as you know; churches that stand out from all the rest. Some of the churches are liberal, some conservative, some way out in a lot of ways, some just odd, some Satanic, and some just social clubs. You could add your own description of some of the “stand out” or “unusual” churches you know about. Then there are churches that are not flashy, or large in attendance, nor do they have facilities that “wow” you when you drive into the parking lot. They are just there in the community doing what God has commanded the church to do in proclaiming His gospel message and ministering to the community of believers and non-believers around them. In our society today they could possibly be considered unusual.
In our day the Church at Thessalonica in the first century would be quite unusual and that is sad to say. The Apostle Paul said about this church, “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath,” (1 Thessalonians 1:8-10 NIV). This church preached the Lord’s message and everyone in the whole area and even at a distance knew about the message of God they preached. They unashamedly preached God’s Word and the message of salvation in Jesus Christ. What a contrast with many churches today who have forgotten the message they should be preaching. Their message was one of “faith in God” not one of prosperity, buildings, “fantastic” and well-known preachers, and “super” programs.
Another thing about this church is that the people used to worship idols. That is a lot like our generation if you think about it. Our generation is full of idol worshippers; idols of possessions, positions, and power. But those in Thessalonica turned from idols and began to serve the living and true God. This is a good reminder of what should happen to every true believer in Jesus Christ. Those things we once worshipped and that controlled our lives should be set aside and our worship should be directed toward the Lord Jesus Christ. Too often today people bring their idols with them to church and incorporate them into the church body and corrupt the body. We also should not be Christians who expect to be served by others but rather we should be Christians who are serving others. Again, Paul said it like this, “They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” What are you and your church doing to serve God?
And one last thing. These Christians at Thessalonica had an expectation that the resurrected Jesus was returning from heaven soon. In their understanding of God’s message and Word, Jesus was going to rescue them from God’s wrath to be poured out upon an ungodly world. Paul said that while they were serving Jesus they were, “to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead —Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” If the Church is really looking for Jesus at any moment why is the church building such monstrous buildings today to house Christians for entertainment and “fellowship” while the world around us really needs the gospel and billions of people still have not heard the message. Are you and your church looking for the soon return of Jesus? Are you living each day like Jesus may return today? And are you serving Jesus and sharing His message far and wide?