“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.” So Paul wrote to the Thessalonian congregation (2 Thessalonians 1:3–4). And as I read these words this morning, I found myself thinking the same thing about you, Brackenhurst Baptist Church.
Minus the persecution (contrary to some, the wearing of masks, social distancing, and a limited gathering do not qualify us for Foxe’s Book of Martyrs), everything else remains fitting when it comes to our church. Amid a myriad of afflictions arising from the coronavirus pandemic, BBC has largely been characterised by growing faith, increasing love for one another, and an enduring steadfast commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed all of us, “ought always to give thanks to God for” each other. Though I’m sure not every member of the Thessalonian Baptist Church was doing well, nevertheless a judgement of charity called for a general encouragement. So with us.
It continues to be of great encouragement to hear about the practical ways in which members are caring for one another. It remains a great blessing when church members (who can) take advantage of the opportunity to gather on the Lord’s Day. On a personal level, I found great encouragement watching (and hearing!) several children in a couple of the services this past Sunday. Keep them coming! I enjoyed just catching up with members in the three services I was privileged to attend. It was edifying to hear stories of God’s faithfulness and its by-product: the growing faith of the Body, which is producing an increased practical love for one another.
One brother shared with me how it’s clear that Jesus Christ is caring for and building up his (our) church during these days. Hearing this served to strengthen my peace. Amid concerns of some who perhaps are wandering in their affections for the church, I was reminded that the Lord is doing a great work. In fact, over the course of the last few weeks, it seems that the Lord is in the process of adding some new members to the church. I had lunch with a pastor today who, after I made “boast of you,” shared that their church too is persevering well, and they too are gaining members in these strange days. I guess it’s true, as we have reflected before, that lockdown has not been able to keep either the word or the work of God bound (2 Timothy 2:9).
I share these brief thoughts as a means to encourage you to keep doing what you are already doing. Having been taught of God to love one another, keep at it. I love these words of Paul, to this same afflicted church, “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:9–10). I smile at Paul’s sneaky exhortation: “You don’t need me to tell you this, but hey, I’m going to anyway!” Why? Because a good thing is worth repeating and worth reinforcing. So, brothers and sisters, you are doing well. Keep at it.
Loving with you,