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1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.
1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. 5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: 7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. 9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
Creating a Contagious Culture
Hard as it is to believe, the answer is true.
World War I claimed an estimated 16 million lives. The influenza epidemic that swept the world in 1918 killed an estimated 50 million people. One fifth of the world's population was attacked by this deadly virus. Within months, it had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history.
The plague emerged in two phases. In late spring of 1918, the first phase, known as the "three-day fever," appeared without warning. Few deaths were reported. Victims recovered after a few days. When the disease surfaced again that fall, it was far more severe. Scientists, doctors, and health officials could not identify this disease which was striking so fast and so viciously, eluding treatment and defying control. Some victims died within hours of their first symptoms. Others succumbed after a few days; their lungs filled with fluid and they suffocated to death.
The plague did not discriminate. It was rampant in urban and rural areas, from the densely populated East coast to the remotest parts of Alaska. Young adults, usually unaffected by these types of infectious diseases, were among the hardest hit groups along with the elderly and young children. The flu afflicted over 25 percent of the U.S. population. In one year, the average life expectancy in the United States dropped by 12 years.
It is an oddity of history that the influenza epidemic of 1918 has been overlooked in the teaching of American history. Documentation of the disease is ample, as shown in the records selected from the holdings of the National Archives regional archives. Exhibiting these documents helps the epidemic take its rightful place as a major disaster in world history.
I believe that there are some striking parallels given to us from the medical world. These resources provide information and direction on how to contain infection and eliminate the spread of contagious sickness. The points that I will provide are very simple and I found them on the webpage for the United States Government Department of Disease control. If the solution for eliminating a contagious culture is to follow these steps, then the solution to creating a contagious culture can be found in ignoring and even rebelling against these simply steps.
Here are the three simple steps that the center for disease control lists as the remedy for a contagious culture:
Isolation - if you are contagious, you should stay away from others. Shut yourself in and don’t get around other people.
Cover your mouth
Wash your hands
Stay away from others:
Stay away from others:
Church sociologist Rodney Stark, in his book “the Rise of Christianity” summarized that the number one factor in the growth of the early church was the strong social network that was created.
When I say social network, we think Facebook or Instagram. That is not the same social network. Modern studies concerning the impact of social media on society rarely deliver any good news. We have more friends now, but we are lonelier.
Not long ago someone connected with me on facebook and when I went back to “add him as friend” it told me that he already had 5,000 friends and couldn’t add anymore...5,000 friends? Really. Can you tell me their names? Their birthdates? The names of their kids? No...those aren’t friends...they are profiles of people you don’t know that post pictures you don’t care about and share opinions you don’t like.
The early church met from house to house and in the temple DAILY!
Isolation is still the greatest weapon of the enemy. His goal is to quarantine and isolate you.
As leaders, if we are going to be contagious we are going to have refuse isolation. Yes, we can use social media as a tool to communicate to our community, but we will not “affect them”
As a church, when we isolate ourselves and our ministries become about my four and no more...yes, you need to minister to your family and yes, you need to be at a church that is serious about ministering to your family...but when that becomes all the church is about...making sure me and mine are saved and ready for the rapture...we lose our contagious quality.
We need to pray and ask God to give us bigger and better ideas for reaching and impacting our city. 30 years ago, door knocking and hanging church information on doors was effective. Now, its illegal in most neighborhoods and I would say for the most part ineffective. For the early church, it was miracles, signs and wonders...IT was Christians being fed to lions but boldly proclaiming their devotion to JEsus Christ that turned the hearts of pagans to serve Jesus...
Cover your mouth
Cover your mouth
Physicians know that most sicknesses are spread by germs that are conveyed by saliva or other fun stuff that can be transferred by speaking, coughing or sneezing...so the contagious quality of the sickness can’t be lessened if people will cover their mouths.
This pertains to the church in multiple ways.
1. As leaders we must communicate with one another. If you are burnt out...you need a break...you lack resources...Yes, we are supposed to be spiritual in the church, but we aren’t mind readers! Open your mouth! Talk...communicate!!
Bishop Wright talked about love yesterday...that love is only functional when it is reciprocated...you want people to love you? Love them! You want people to be friendly to you? Be friendly to them! You want people to talk to you? Talk to them!
As a church, if we are going to have a contagious impact on this community, we are going to stop covering our mouths! You have to share your testimony! You have to tell people about Jesus and what He has done in your life!
Wash your hands
Wash your hands
Let me say that I am a big fan of washing hands in the physical. I don’t why it infuriates me the way that it does...but when a guy walks out of the bathroom without washing his hands, I want to physically take him back into the bathroom and force him to wash his hands...or walk around behind him everywhere he goes and yell “unclean” for all of the people that he is about to shake hands with!
But in the spiritual parallel...washing hands takes on another light. It was during the trial of Jesus, that Pontus Pilate, as he was in the authority of overseeing the judgement, called for a basin of water so that he could wash his hands...Symbolically, he was saying, I am not taking responsibility for what is taking place here today.
When a church washes its hands, it loses it contagious quality!
When leaders fail to take responsibility, the church loses it contagious quality! When leaders adopt a “someone else will do it” mentality that bleeds over into the mentality of those that are following them.
When leaders commit to something but then think nothing of not following through or not showing up for a laundry list of excuses, it worms its way into the DNA of the church...if you are an usher and you are on duty, it should be a near death illness or worse that keeps you from fulfilling what you said you would do!
In the physical...yes, I’m going to wash my hands...but in the spiritual application, I refuse to wash my hands. If I said I was going to do it, I’m going to do it. If I committed to something, I am going to follow through on that commitment and I’m going to complete it with excellence!
Beyond that...a church that washes its hands of the responsibility of reaching their community will lose its contagious quality!
yes...it is my responsibility to reach the lost! IT’s my responsibility to share the gospel!
So...don’t stay away from others...Don’t cover your mouth and Don’t wash your hands!!!
In 1 Thessalonians Paul writes to a highly contagious church body. It is evident that the church at Thessalonica has ignored the doctors recommendation to get the vaccine...the church is obviously infected with a highly contagious strand of faith.
Look at what Paul says to them in verse 7, 8 and 9
7 You were ensamples (or examples) to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia
8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;
the Thessalonians were a church that was not isolated...it wasn’t about them...
A. Paul said you were examples not only in Macedonia and Achaia...implying that their infectious faith had carried even beyond these two locations...
Thessalonica was a city in the province of Macedonia while Achaia was a neighboring province. Both Macedonia and Achaiah were Roman provinces...maybe much like states or regions here in the United States...the contagious impact of this church had infected not only their city, but their province and even the province beyond them...
It is clear that Thessalonica had not isolated themselves...they were staying in and and just wondering what the church would do for them...what needs the church would meet for them and their families...no they were contagious!
B. Vs. 8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord...
So we need not to speak any thing!
You didn’t cover your mouth!
You shared the faith...you shared your testimony! Paul says in vs. 9 when we came to the people of Macedonia and Achaia they told us your testimony...you forgot to cover your mouth when you talked...when you sneezed...
Paul says...we don’t even need to say anything...they already caught the infectious faith from you all!
C. He said in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad...
Like a virus, your faith has been spread abroad...
You all didn’t wash your hands...you didn’t just sit back and say, well Paul, Silvanius and Timotheus will be along soon and they can tell the people in Mecodian and Arcadia...they can tell them the same thing they told us...its not our responsibility...
No...they didn’t wash their hands...but they spread the faith...
They passed along the contagious Gospel!