We Give Thanks to God for You
One of the great lessons in the faith and the community of Jesus’ people is given to us by the apostle Paul. Let me use 1 Thessalonians 1:2 as an example. After Paul’s greeting, he started an extended thanksgiving section where he said of the Thessalonians, “We give thanks to God always for you all.” Romans 1:8, same thing — I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you. What might be a surprise is that even the Corinthians, who could prove to be a challenge at times, were reasons for Paul’s thanksgiving — I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus (1 Cor 1:4). The giving of thanks for fellow believers is a wonderful spiritual discipline that Paul modeled and commended. He highly recommended it (2 Tim 3:10)!
This past Sunday reminded me why I want to follow Paul’s example and communicate my thankfulness to my Jubilee family. It is consistently a joy to worship together regularly. That is a constant source for giving thanks. I am thinking of the conversation we had after we worshipped together. I entered our family meeting with a conception in my mind that my Jubilee fam can handle hard conversations in a Christ-ward and edifying way. After we were done, I told a bunch of people that what I expected from my family proved to be true. There are still conversations to be had. There are still decisions to be made. There are still hard choices ahead in not only the topic of our discussion but whatever may come our way in the future. Amid all of these realities, I thank God for the way we were able to converse with one another this past Sunday. Thank you for your presence, your care, your passion, your compassion, your listening ear, your humble posture, your challenge, your great questions, your embrace, and your Christlikeness.
The elders give thanks for you, Jubilee.
P.S. Jonathan (J-Dub) Worthington shared this with me and permitted me to pass it on. May it encourage you as an example of enacting the reign of the king in life and lips that aim for compelling and courageous conversations fueled by the person, proclamation, presence, and promise of our Lord.
Last week I met with a dear brother named Paul. a 56-year-old who has begun taking classes with us and who helps lead a large network of churches in a city near here. Paul's story is incredible: his wife is the principal of a private Christian school in their city, just like ours. Paul and his wife have both spent time in prison, with Paul's longest sentence being one year. I asked him if they tortured him at all in prison, and he said, "Well, not like you mean, but with hard labor they did: many days were 18 hours straight of hard labor, with the guards yelling terrible things at us. But near the end of my incarceration, they became much nicer. I shared the gospel with them and they said that this gospel is much more compelling to them than the boring ideology shared by their leaders here.” I also asked about how being detained that year was for his kids. Paul replied, "My 10-year-old daughter, when she found out about it, said, “I guess the Lord has something for Daddy to learn while he's in there." This inspiring story illustrates how you can pray for believers here: for Spirit-led courage and perseverance to glorify Him no matter how or in what situation. Please pray that they will stand strong and be ready to face any cost for His name's sake and for reaching the unreached of Asia.