Monday, June 21, 2010
Motives for Commitment: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
*Blogger's note- This is the seond in a series of summer lessons I am writing for Adult Bible Study Online, a Faith and Life Resource. This lesson can be found at:
Christianity has been tied to some pretty bad news recently. Conservative Christians are a strong part of the Tea Party and birther movements, which exhibit racist overtones in their opposition to the Obama Administration, A Baptist minister and anti-gay activist was recently caught traveling with a gay escort who he claims was “handling his luggage.” A Baptist missionary was charged with kidnapping children during the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Fundamentalist Christians on the Texas Board of Education are revising social studies textbooks to reflect a right-wing ideology. On and on the stories go. The gospel message is getting distorted. Where is the authenticity and integrity when message, motives, and morals don’t match?
The apostle Paul defends his presentation of the gospel with authenticity and integrity. His message came without flattery, seeking praise, or exercising greed or self-interest. He even calls upon God as witness to his sincerity. His motives and message and morals matched. Paul’s focus was upon pleasing God rather than pleasing others or in personal gain.
There seems to be a pattern of young people leaving the church in large numbers. Generation Y, young people born between 1980 and 2000, are seeking a church with authenticity and integrity. In a young adult statement to the Mennonite Church USA assembly in San Jose, they collectively said: “We want a church that practices its beliefs with consistency and integrity. ... Some of us are connected to our home congregations, and others are finding it hard to connect to any congregation ...” Young people are keenly aware of hidden motives behind church actions, leaders who preach welcome but are exclusive, congregations that preach the gospel of peace but are divided or support state violence. Authenticity and integrity are high on their list of church priorities.
These should be priorities for the church as a whole. Paul urged the Thessalonian Christians to “live lives worthy of God” and of the gospel we share. Living with authenticity and integrity is not just for the sake of our children, but for the sake of God, the gospel, the church, and the world.
Why is it important that our message, motives, and morals match? Are the young people in your congregations looking for authenticity and integrity? How can we better reflect the gospel we preach?