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When I read my Bible, I find it very helpful at times to pray, plead, and ponder over phrases like this one from 1 Thessalonians 1, “the church of the Thessalonians in God…”  What does it means for a church—an entire church—to be in God?  I think Paul tells us at least four things that paint a compelling picture of what a church “in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” actually looks like:

  • A church in God is full of faith, love, and ultimately hope in Jesus and His return.
  • A church in God knows that God loves them and has called them into fellowship with Himself.  They have experienced the preaching of the gospel and ministry of the word in power, in the Spirit, and with “full conviction”.
  • A church in God imitates their leaders as those leaders imitate Christ.  The pattern from Jesus onward (Phil 2) is this: the word is received and obeyed in affliction—with the joy of the Spirit—so that the result is a life that is “an example to all…believers”
  • A church in God has a reputation for being full of people who have turned from idols of all kinds to “serve the living and true God” AND to “wait for His Son from heaven”.

Using Paul’s “report card” here, would you say that our/your church is a “church in God”? Why or why not? And if not—knowing that the church is comprised of individual believers who together exhibit these four characteristics—what can you do  today to become more deeply rooted in God? Especially so that the above characteristics are present in greater measure in our/your church context?

Posted by Craig Lester with