[from June 17, '09]
"So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us."
(1 Thess. 2:8)
Paul helped launch ('birth') a number of Christian communities in the Mediterranean region. The church in Thessolonia was one. In this 2nd chapter of his first letter to them, Paul remarks about how much we (and the people he came with) love & care for the Thessalonians. First, of course, the message of the gospel. The life-changing and life-giving love of God. The core of Christianity. That was their first priority. But second, and I dare say JUST as important, they also shared themselves. It wasn't just a "traveling lecture series" meant to impart information only. For Christianity to function at its best, it needs to be done IN COMMUNITY. And to have true community, people must be willing to share themselves with others - openly & honestly.
At Aiea UMC, we need to grow deeper in our Christian community. There's just a core group that have entrusted themselves to others. Small group Bible Studies, Passion Groups, Youth Group & UMW. But we can do so much more. We need to convince the majority of the worshipers at church to make the commitment to invest themselves into the lives of others. The churches who live out their calling best seem to be the ones who share themselves with each other most intentionally.
I, too, need to make sure that I'm intentional about fostering my personal friendships/relationships. It's easy for me to have a lot of friends as pastor, but very few really close friends, with whom I share deeply. Over the past 3+ years I've striven to cultivate those deep relationships. May it continue.