Because We Loved You
There’s a small verse in the New Testament, almost hidden inside the book of 1 Thessalonians. Paul writes words of heartfelt gratitude and perspective to a church he founded.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:8 he writes, “Because we loved you, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well. ”
Paul captures the heart of the church, relational ministry, and the depth of relationships in God’s family in one small verse. This verse, to me, has become an anthem of sorts as I consider the rich ministry I’ve been able to share with so many.
I once heard the Bible described as a jewel.
Every time you turn it, you see something in a new and brilliant way, like twisting a jewel under a light and seeing the various reflections from it. This little verse is like that for me.
It’s a reminder of the joy of living life together. I keep coming back to it and turning it slightly, and it illuminates something beautiful and new.
Because we loved you, we shared the message, but also more than that.
Because we loved you, we weren’t strangers sitting across from one another in an auditorium, but we were friends.
Because we loved you, you knew me and I you.
Because we loved you, we served you.
Because we loved you, we ate meals together and talked over endless cups of coffee.
Because we loved you, we traveled together to serve, to laugh, and to encounter God in a new context.
Because we loved you, our lives will never be the same.
The church is a gift that will change the way you see yourself and the world around you. It is a gift to be in relationships with other people; it is a gift to know that God calls us into these relationships and real change occurs.
When you can stand back and look at the people you’ve been blessed to lead and serve, it changes everything for you. It grants you a shift in perspective that will stay with you long after your time with that community.
God created us to be known and to know one another in perfect community.
For many wonderful seasons, God allowed me to serve in a community in Downey, CA. In fact, I served there for over ten years.
When you stay that long at any place, it appears that you’ll never leave. That’s how I felt for most of my years. I was serving in an incredible place, with amazing people, and relationships were formed that will last for the rest of my life.
Because of love, ministry happened.
Jesus was the perfect embodiment of Paul’s words here. He invested not only in His disciples, but everyone that he came in contact with.
He served people.
He saw them as sons and daughters of God.
He broke bread with them and traveled with them.
He affirmed their identity and ultimately gave his life for them.
Jesus understood that the message mattered, but so did the relationship that was formed between himself and everyone that He met. Jesus knew that his time was precious with people, and he took advantage of it.
Time is an interesting thing, isn’t it? We never truly know how much of it we’ll have in any one place or with any one person. Sometimes the years blend together and we, as humans are so apt to do, think things will never change.
In some ways, we can take for granted what we’ve had or where we are. We think time is forever on our side, not realizing that things can change in an instant.
The power of relational connections, however, remind us to never take for granted the people we’re privileged to know and work alongside.
Recently, we started again in a new place and context. We left the security and familiarity of being known, and entered into the realm known as “The new people.”
On the one hand, this is thrilling and exciting work to garner the trust and friendship of new people. And then on the other side, it’s downright terrifying to start again. It takes time to build relationships and create a relational deposit in the lives of people.
But this is the process of ministry.
The depth of relationships doesn’t happen by chance or by the luck of the draw. It happens when we invest. And in order to truly invest in others, it looks like spending time with them.
Because we loved you, we spent time with you.
Because we love you, we took time to know you.
Because we loved you, we grew closer together over the years.
As we transition from one community to the next, we do so with heavy hearts that are saddened to leave what has meant so much, but also hearts that are full and ready to receive what comes next.
I’m going to keep turning the jewel of 1 Thessalonians 2:8, asking God to illuminate something new and beautiful in this verse.
May this be a mantra for all of us: “Because we loved you…we shared our lives as well.”