or feel. Paul goes on to say that God has chosen us and give us his Holy Spirit.
Assurance of our status before God isn’t based on our feelings, our whim, but on what God has done in us. As Paul says in Romans: ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?... For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
A reliable barometer of faith
It was not only Paul who believed that the Thessalonians were ‘the real thing.’ Everybody else thought so too. How did those people know? Because, the Thessalonians had been actively seeking to share the good news of Jesus with others. The extent to which we’re willing let our faith be known, to share our faith with others. is a reasonably reliable barometer of its veracity.
What about us?
Could Paul affirm our Churches in the way he affirmed the fledgling church in Thessalonica? Are we the ‘real thing:’ churches working out our faith, moti- vated by love, full of hope based on God’s promises, conscious of the Holy Sprit’s work in and amongst us, making our faith known to others? These are signs of a true Church of Christ. Let’s commit ourselves to them now.
In 1971, Coca Cola responded to research showing that young people wanted the real, the original, an escape from phoniness, by coming up with the famous advertising slogan ‘Coke: it’s the real thing’. In one sense it’s true, Coke does have the original cola formula, but does that make other colas ‘fake’?
Cornerstones of Christian viving
In church, we’ve begun reading through 1 Thessalonians. In the opening verses St Paul reassures the new Christians that, whatever they were feeling, they are indeed ‘the real thing.’
He identifies three cornerstones of Christian living: faith, love and hope. And each of these will be demonstrated in the lives of believers. Real faith will always be evident in what people do. As St James tersely puts it, ‘faith without deeds is dead’. Genuine faith in God will affect our actions. And the motivation for those actions will be love – love of God and one another.
Love here isn’t some gooey feeling; it isn’t something that happens to us. Rather it’s something we decide will be: it’s intentional.
And finally, hope. in the Bible isn’t wishing for the best. ‘I hope Everton win the Premier League.’ Real hope isn’t feeling or emotion: it’s based on knowledge of facts. It’s grounded in the word of God who cannot lie. It’s hope that cannot be moved by circumstances or what the eyes see. It’s grounded, Paul says, in our Lord Jesus Christ. This well grounded hope is what enables us to endure difficult times.
It’s not just down to us
I guess, from time-to-time, we might wonder: ‘Am I really a Christian?’ But it’s not all down to what we think