We’re not going to see each other, face-to-face, for some time it seems. And that should bother us!
When we decided as elders to cease all our meetings it was so hard to imagine what this would look like. Every ministry of the church relies on people meeting with one another because every ministry seeks to teach and equip believers or to tell those who don’t know Jesus about Him. It was a difficult decision.
At about the same time we made this decision I was reading 1 Thessalonians. This is a letter from Paul to the Christians in Thessalonica which gives us some insight into how we should feel about not being able to see each other. Thankfully, it also shows us how Paul responded when put into this situation.
Paul, Timothy and Silas had been forced to leave Thessalonica prematurely due to rioting. Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians after Timothy had visited them sometime later and reported back to Paul about how they were doing. As you read the letter you get a real sense of how Paul feels about the believers in this church he’d been part of. In chapter 2 verse 17 Paul compares his separation from them with a child being orphaned and he speaks of his intense longing to see them. In chapter 3 verse 10 Paul tells his readers that he prays night and day that he may see them again.
But Paul didn’t want to just see the church in Thessalonica because they were an alright bunch of people to chat about the weather with. He was concerned for them spiritually. These Christians were young in the faith and didn’t have much to use to grow in their faith. They also faced persecution from the same group of people who had chased Paul out of town. So, Paul takes action – chapter 3 tells us when he could stand it no longer, he sends Timothy to them to strengthen and encourage them in their faith. Then, as Timothy reported back to Paul, he was encouraged and joyful too because they were standing firm. In chapter 3 verse 9 he can’t thank God enough for them!
We need digital Timothys
So, we can’t see each other to strengthen and encourage and be brought joy. We can’t even send someone else to do this for us as Paul did. So, we need digital Timothys! Pick up the phone, send a text, join a meeting on zoom, watch live on YouTube. And pray – pray that the situation would change so that we can meet again soon. But pray for each other in the meantime and let others know what they can pray for you.
Paul finishes chapter 3 with a prayer:
Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
Grace and peace to you.
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