1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

many respects an elevator filled with people is a microcosm of our world today:
a large, impersonal institution where anonymity, isolation, and independence
are the uniform of the day. It shows us that people can be surrounded by other
people in a crowded setting, and not experience community. We can be a part
of a company, a club, or a church and not feel we belong or are accepted. We
can share a car pool, an office, and even a home and not have significant relationships.

an examination of the life of a man from antiquity, the apostle Paul, will shed
light on our modern predicament. The modern corporate person who is upwardly
mobile, with an emphasis on mobile, has nothing on Paul. He was born in Tarsus,
educated in Jerusalem, lived in Damascus, spent formative time in the desert,
moved to Antioch, and that was only the beginning.  Professionally, he ventured
out from Antioch on three extensive missionary campaigns, traveling from city
to city. Yet wherever he went he established a band of people who huddled together
in supportive and encouraging community. How was he able to create significant
relationships even on the run, even in the midst of his mobility, even in his
transient travels?

Thessalonians, one of Paul’s most personal letters, identifies some of the key
components for establishing and maintaining significant relationships.

Concede our need for others (v. 7). Just as a child needs a mother we need each
other. This need for others is rooted deep within our souls.  God planned it
that way. That’s why God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen.
2:18 NIV).

Cultivate deep relationships (v. 8). Healthy people do not take relationships
lightly. They know that to survive in a cold and cruel world requires deep relationships.
But those relationship do not just happen, they require effort. They know
that they have to do more than just reach out to others; they have to share
their lives with others as well.

truth was one of the secrets of Paul’s establishment of supportive relationships.
Here was a man that every time he wrote to a church, he would always call by
name two, three, or four people that were very close to him.  He had developed
significant relationships with these people. Paul knew that to survive in a
cold and cruel world would require deep relationships. But those relationships
would not just happen; they would require an effort on his part. He knew he
had to do more than just reach out to others; he had to share his life with

in verses seven and eight are three words that form the basis for developing
relationships which pass the test of time.

– By practically getting involved in another’s life.  Remember people don’t
care how much you know until they know how much you care.

– By relationally getting involved in another’s life. The word picture of “sharing
our lives” continues the mothering idea and paints a picture of a mother nursing
her young. A mother cannot nurse her children without sharing a part of herself
with her child. For us to share with others in deep relationship necessitates
that we get up close and personal with another. One cannot share at a distance.

– By emotionally getting involved in another’s life. Paul loved these people.
And when we love others we do not treat them as a means to an end, but rather
as individuals of value. To communicate our love with others we must dare to
talk about our affections. We must learn the gestures of love – a hug, a handshake,
roughhousing, as well as many acts of kindness. May we never forget that love
is something you do, not just something you say.

Commit to authenticity (v. 8).  It is not enough to admit we need each other
or say, “Oh, a few friends would be nice.” We must commit ourselves to getting
beneath the surface talk and become interested and accountable to each other.
Authenticity occurs when the masks come off, conversations get deep, hearts
get vulnerable, lives are shared, accountability is invited, and tenderness
flows. It is where believers in the body of Christ really do become brothers
and sisters.

is becoming absorbed in the lives of others as an active participant, relating
to, sharing with, and caring for others. The apostle Paul describes authenticity
in five words, “We imparted our own lives” (1 Thes. 2:8 NASB). Paul did not
erect barriers. He was not aloof. He opened his life to others. Reuben Gornitzke
said of the need for authenticity, “We can’t simply cheer people on and give
them our best wishes. We have to make room for them in our lives.”

is when we make room for others in our lives that the walls of indifference
and apathy come down. It is when we make room for others that we discover the
best of others and the best in ourselves. (Rick Ezell)


brief provided by: Rick Ezell, a pastor and writer in Naperville, IL.

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