1 Thessalonians 2:5 As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; 6 nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, 7 though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. 8 So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.
9 You remember our labor and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
Here Paul describes the beginnings of what would become a church in Thessalonica. He describes his commitment to “share the gospel of God” in which he “worked night and day”. It seems clear that Paul’s proclamation of the gospel was something that happened over a period of time. It may have included a dimension that would be described as “verbal”, but it definitely included a relational aspect as well.
In my experience of seeing persons far from the Lord come to faith in Jesus Christ, it’s almost always a result of both – words and relationship. One hears a sermon or teaching or faith story that stirs the heart. But it’s generally accompanied by a relationship with a Christian person or Christian community over time. In other words, faith is something that tends to be a process more than a singular event.
Some of you reading this blog are on a faith journey yourself. You may not be quite ready to call yourself a Christian, but it’s clear that something is happening with you on the inside. There’s something stirring in you that is both intriguing and maybe even a bit scary. And a bit messy as well. If someone were to ask if you are a follower of Jesus you’re not sure how you might respond. Yes? No? Maybe? You may even be frustrated by your lack of clarity. Not to worry friend. Just stay with it and allow things to unfold.
Others of you may be trying your best to share your Christian faith with someone else but you’re not sure if you’re getting through. You may question yourself. Am I doing this right? Am I saying the right things? Am I being a good role model? Fear not. The Lord who brought into relationship with this person will take up the slack where you fall short. Be patient and let the Lord take care of the outcome.
Lord Jesus, give us grace to give – and receive – the gospel in both word and relationship. Amen.