Are you part of a small group? Do you get together with fellow brothers or sisters in Christ for the sake of your spiritual life? 1 Thessalonians 3 provides a good way to think about our aim when we meet with other believers.
According to verse 10, Paul wanted to “supply what is lacking” in their faith. What does that mean? Why is it necessary? Why did he care about it?
He cared because he was connected to them. Timothy’s report about the Thessalonian believers reminded Paul of his thanksgiving to God for the joy he felt for their sake (verse 9). He said, “what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy” (2:19-20). He desired to “supply what is lacking” not because their neediness irritated him but because he had affection for them.
They were needy, though. They were facing “afflictions” (verse 3) and temptations to quit (verses 5, 8). Afflictions threaten, trouble, and distress. And everyone suffers faith-pains like this to one degree or another. Christians are “destined for this” (verse 3). The Word reveals beforehand what’s coming to us (verse 4). Paul wanted to “supply what is lacking” because afflictions threaten faith.
So to “supply what is lacking in…faith” means to “establish and exhort…in…faith” (verse 2). It means to give encouragement to endure, “that no one be moved” (verse 3), that others be “standing fast in the Lord” (verse 8). What does your brother need? A brick? A brace? A bracket? A batten? Then bring it.
When we know that a fellow believer is having a hard time—a when more than an if—we should pray for him and meet with him (“see you face to face”) and supply him with whatever encouragement we can for sake of his faith. When we know a fellow believer who has run out of gas, we don’t go just to sit by the side of the road with phatic platitudes about how hard it is. We take a can of gas so he can get his car going down the road again.
Bring your affections when those you care for are wobbly, and also bring some fuel for their faith to stand fast.
This short video interview with Matt Perman calls attention to the theological problem with vocational dualism, namely, that it usually starts with a wishy-washy doctrine of creation. I know that my own Kuyperian appreciation for the “things of earth” had its genesis when I began to study the first few chapters of Genesis.
The entrepreneurial spirit of the Millennial generation celebrates values Christianity holds dear: risk taking (leaps of faith), creativity (Imago Dei), and impacting the world for greater good (kingdom advancing).
It may be too much to say of an entire generation, but this article should encourage the rising number of Christians who believe that it matters that Christ is Lord over every thumb’s width in the world.
ht: What’s Best Next