Pastor’s Blog – Dec. 8

“Do you know that all over the provinces of both Macedonia and Achaia believers look up to you? The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out.
We don’t even have to say anything anymore—you’re the message! People come up and tell us how you received us with open arms, how you deserted the dead idols of your old life so you could embrace and serve God, the true God. They marvel at how expectantly you await the arrival of his Son, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescued us from certain doom” (1 Thessalonians 1:7-10, MSG).
     I am convinced that word of mouth travels faster than anything else, including the speed of light. I lived in a small town as a child. If I misbehaved while walking home from school, my mother would know about it before I reached the front porch.
     Many believe that bad news travels farther than good news. I’m not so sure about that claim. The letter Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica is proof that good news has quite a reach, as well.
     Paul commended the Christ followers who lived in this ancient Greek city. People who lived in the surrounding countryside heard about the stellar manner by which the Christian community was conducting itself. Paul didn’t go into great detail. Yet one thing is certain: the church had made a positive impression on people far and wide.
     In 1907, a series of sermons was published by William Watkinson. One sermon was entitled, “The Invincible Strategy.” The message played down the value of the church verbally attacking the undesirable behaviors it observed in society at that time. Rather, the pastor credited for preaching this sermon championed the importance of practicing good behavior, as well as performing good deeds.
     The sermon goes on to make the following claim. “Denunciatory rhetoric is so much easier and cheaper than good works and proves to be a popular temptation. Yet it is far better to light the candle than to curse the darkness.”
     I think the pastor’s words are particularly helpful for the time in which we are presently living. Many in the Christian community today are prone to denounce the things happening around them with which they dislike or disagree. In many cases, their conclusions echo God’s sentiments.
     However, if the church is ever to promote change in the world in which we live, I believe we should employ a more effective tactic. You see, not only is it better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, you and I can bear more fruit for the Kingdom by reflecting the light of Jesus himself. This is the type of action the church in Thessalonica used to capture the attention of the people within her sphere of influence. They didn’t just echo the message of God’s love, they became the message!
     So, the questions with which each of us must wrestle become critical to the effectiveness of the church’s mission today. What message am I communicating with my words and actions during this season of darkness? And will the message I declare do anything to dispel the darkness or will it become nothing more than a means of cursing it?