June 20, 2010
Building Strong Friendships in Christ
Coming to You Today
“For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain,”
1 Thessalonians 2:1, Page 1846
My friend asked me to play basketball with him at a park recently. Just a single basket on an asphalt parking lot provided a real challenge for me. Before I went, I suspected that I could not really shoot a basketball any more. Once upon a time I could shoot, dribble, and even dunk a basketball. Let me tell you, no more. My friend had knee surgery about a year ago and he still has mobility issues. We played HORSE and he won. I was sure the basket was higher than regulation ten feet, but no matter, I could not shoot. I shot so many air balls that I had to chase the ball all over the place. You know, however, that I played ball with my friend mainly to spend time with him. We both knew that we needed exercise, but we also like friendship. We read the Bible together at the beach, often in a small group. At the park playing basketball, we just had some fun together, and maybe a little exercise. I was so tired after few minutes of hoops (read chasing the ball) that I had to get a chair and sit in the shade for a while. I did not waste any time today playing a little basketball with my friend. We both had a nice time. Next, I want to return to surfing. I bought a life vest and expect I will need it.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:1 (page 1846), Paul continues to talk about the Thessalonian believers. Every believer you know needs to hear some positive things from you. I have many friends who tell me that their spouse, father, child, or you name it only tells them all the things they are doing wrong. I know we have all been there and feel so strongly that all we hear is negative messages from people we love.
Paul built strong spiritual friendships wherever he went. When you read his letters to the New Testament churches, he is always greeting people by name, and talking about the things going on at Ephesus, Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica, Colossae, and Rome. In verse 2:1, Paul mentions that the Thessalonians know Paul did not come in vain to them. Let us look at two things here.
First, Paul reminds the Thessalonians of what they know. In order to build strong spiritual friendships, you will need to share common spiritual experiences. In this case, Paul reminds the Thessalonians that they know within themselves that Paul came to them, and Paul implies that God sent Paul to them. If you have believed that Jesus forgave you from all your sins, because He died for you and lives in you today, then God sent someone to you to share the good news (Romans 10:14-18, page 1773). Encouraging one another to look back at positive events in our lives (blessings from Jesus), including how you met your friends in Christ, often pays special blessings.
Second, Paul uses the phrase “not in vain” to describe the results of Paul’s coming to the Thessalonians. As Paul explained in 1 Thessalonians 1:3-10, the Thessalonians received the Gospel of Jesus Christ with joy in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction. Paul’s preaching would have been in vain if the the Thessalonians would not have received the Gospel by faith, or if they abandoned their profession of faith shortly after making their claim of faith (consider Matthew 13:20-21, page 1523). Instead, Paul reminds them of their great testimony all over the region and how they are examples of faith in Christ Jesus.
If you find yourself saying too many negative things about life, and your friends, then you may want to strengthen your friendship by looking at how you came to meet your friends. How did God arrange your getting together? Were you the person who led your friend to Christ? Paul clearly had a purpose of coming to Thessalonica to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to teach the disciples to observe all that Jesus had commanded (Matthew 28:19-20, page 1557).
So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.
● Remind your friends how God drew you to one another.
● Think about the purpose that God put you and your friend together. God did not create your friendship in vain, but with a purpose, His greater glory as a result of your friendship.
Application for Today
Today, I want to think about where God is sending me today. Who will I meet today that I will be reminding tomorrow about how we first me? A few days ago I shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a woman at the beach and she prayed to receive Christ. I often give the person a Bible, and write the date and a few verses in the Bible so they can remember when they prayed and believed that Christ has forgiven their sins. Today, I hope to see someone I can remind of the way God brought us to meet each other and that God never acts in vain. Who will you remind today?