The first call in this passage is to encourage each other and to acknowledge leaders in the church. In our cultural climate everyone seems to want to be a critic. Why not turn this around and be an encourager? Leadership can be challenging; most church leaders I know are volunteers and could certainly use a little recognition and encouragement for their hard work. Church life is about encouraging each other and honouring our leaders.
Secondly, we are called to help people and even to warn those who are being idle and disruptive. I find that most people (including myself) need more reminders and gentle warnings rather than major confrontations in order to keep moving forward. What tends to happen is that some people in the church have gifts, skills and resources to offer but choose not to share them with others. This hurts the whole the body and limits its potential. Church life is about offering what you have in service to the body of Christ.
Church life is not focussed only on what happens inside the building, but also needs to turn outwards. I love this quote by Reggie Joiner: “leaders should focus on who they want to reach, not who they want to keep.”  In Matthew 18:12-14 Jesus tells a parable of a shepherd who leaves 99 sheep in the pen to find the one that has wandered away. Church life is about finding those who are lost and bringing them in.
We are also to help people in their time of need. Teen Challenge shared with us last week and showed how this can work. The staff and guys in Teen Challenge surround and encourage each other and give people who are struggling a boost until they can stand on their own again. All in all we need to be patient with each other. The main thrust of this passage is that each believer is to have a sense of pastoral responsibility for others. Church life is about how you treat people.
Finally in verses 16-18 Paul speaks to our inner attitudes. “Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thess 5:16-18) Giving thanks in all circumstances does not mean we are thankful for all circumstances but rather an attitude that turns first towards Jesus in prayer and thankfulness is sustainable no matter what life brings our way. Church life finds its foundation and identity in Jesus.
Until next week,