1 Thessalonians 2:8. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
At its core Christianity is about being a giver. The life of Christ in us make us a sharer. God has shared all that he has with us. Christ has shared all that he is with us.
This is the mindset that Paul brought into Thessalonica. He came into the Greek city from Philippi, where he had been beaten up, arrested, and imprisoned for preaching the gospel. Will he be defensive or cynical as he comes to Thessalonica? And on the flip side, could the Thessalonians trust Paul, Sylas, and Timothy? Back then there was no shortage of travelling “salesman” teachers that would walk into town, spread a new philosophy or magic or something, and then expect money for “personal lessons.” They came only to take not to give.
But the gospel and our union with Christ empowers us to be givers. Like Paul. Sharing the gospel of God AND our own selves (souls) with those that we have come to love.
Some Christians can share the gospel of God but they have no idea how to share themselves. They can discuss theology or apologetics all day, but they can’t talk about their own heart’s experience with Christ. They spend hours with the Bible, but they spend little time with others. Maybe it’s the sunday school teacher who faithfully shows up and teaches the lesson each week, but never reaches out to any of the students in her class. Maybe it’s the small group leader who can answer all the Bible study questions, but never shares his own struggles. Maybe it’s the Christian who leaves gospel tracts laying around in public spaces, but can’t have a personal conversation about what Jesus means to them.
Other Christians can share their own selves, but they have no idea how to share the gospel of God. They have lots of conversations on Sunday mornings, they write cards, and make phone calls. But they never point others back to Jesus and his finished work. Yes, they’re encouraging, reminding you that “God is good,” but without ever pointing to the good news. Maybe it’s the Christian who is kind to his neighbor, but never lets that neighbor know about his faith in Jesus. Maybe it’s the small group leader that is great at listening to everyone’s problems, but she can’t present a cross centered understanding of suffering. Maybe it’s the sunday school teacher who really connects to the kids and cares deeply for them, but can’t explain how David and Goliath point to Jesus.
Union with Christ means we are equipped to share BOTH the gospel of God and our own lives. And we must share both. As disciple makers of our Lord Jesus Christ, the greatest giver in history, we are compelled to give away the two things God has given to us – the good news, and our life. Which is his life.
None of this is easy. Just ask Paul. He’ll be maligned in Thessalonica just like he was in Philippi and many other places. But in Christ we have a new identity and a new security – Christ’s indestructible life. This empowers us with the boldness we need to share the gospel and our souls. Without fear. And without the extremes of co-dependency (my fulfillment is attached to you) and detachment (I don’t need you to be fulfilled).
How? Because we are givers. We are sharers.
Now we can focus on others and their spiritual growth without needing anything in return from them. Our happiness is not connected to how much or how fast they’ve changed. We are fulfilled in Christ, not in their spiritual progress. This frees us from co-dependency’s controlling jealousies and neediness. We are able to love others deeply and yet let them go when we need to.
And we can reject selfish detachment and truly focus on others without fear of being hurt or losing our independence. We can love like Paul. Like a “nursing mother taking care of her own children” (2:7). In Christ, our relationships don’t need to be superficial or convenient. They can be real and authentic. Full of grace and the good news of Jesus.
“To live is Christ” has made you a giver. A sharer of the good news of God and of your own self. May God grant us his grace today as we seek to share life with others, both pointing them to Christ and being Christ to them in these difficult days.
Do you tend to share the gospel more than yourself, or yourself more than the gospel? Do you tend to be co-dependent in relationships or detached?
You in Christ
How does knowing that you are in Christ offer you the love and security you need to have healthy, gospel centered, relationships with others?
Christ in you
How can you share the gospel of God today? How can you share your own self?
Playlist: Song for sharing life.