Paul and Silas were delighted to share with the Thessalonians not only the gospel of God but their lives as well because they had become so dear to them. I have been kicking this around in my mind and my prayers a lot lately.
I think it is clear what the call to share the gospel is. It is the call to communicate the truth and grace of Jesus. This part to me seems natural. It is what I feel God has created me to do. Sometimes this call to share the Gospel is accomplished through deep and lasting relationships, sometimes it is a one time meeting when your love for a perfect stranger is displayed through your communication of the good news of Jesus to them. Either way I feel that as I look toward the future of Good Life Church,I am confident we will be a community of believers that will value the sharing of the Gospel of God with our community and in essence the world.
It is the sharing life part that it is still vague. Many churches talk about sharing life together. Some attempt to accomplish this through small group ministry, sunday school, or other calendared events. I feel a pull, even this early in the process to summarize “sharing life” into a neat little package of ministry that I and the team can manage. But as I read the text of I Thess. 2:8, I see something much deeper. In the context of Paul’s letter he is communicating a deep affection for the Thessalonians. One that led him and Silas to share not only the Gospel of God but their lives as well. What does this mean? Literally it is their souls. They were willing to sacrifice the deepest parts of them for the Thessalonian body. They were not only willing to lay their lives down for them, they did. They sacrificed greatly for them, all fueled and motivated by love. As I process this it is confirmation of what Jesus is leading me to pray for Bradenton/Sarasota. He is challenging me to pray that I will love the city, the people, and the Body of believers that will become Good Life Church. It is this deep love that will drive every word of teaching I preach and furthermore every sacrifice I make. If at any step of this process the love of God ceases to be the motivation then something is wrong and I will find myself distant from the very heart that birthed this Church in the first place. So today I fight against packaging the “sharing life” part of the vision of Good Life into a something I can wrap my hands and mind around. I surrender it to the God who has called me and trust that He will teach what sharing life with people really looks like. I am praying He shows me areas of my life where it is happening in a healthy way and correct the areas of my life in which I am accepting a lesser form.
As Good Life Church we will share the gospel, “the GOOD news” and LIFE, even if I am not sure what that sacrifice truly looks like yet.