“After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! Yes, you are our pride and joy.”
~1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 (NLT).
Oh how the Apostle Paul loved these saints at Thessalonica—but not with a love that was special or unique in the context of his mission; just an equal love accorded all the people he ministered to and with. Yet, those who’d responded to his preaching—coming into Christ’s kingdom at his heartfelt behest—would no doubt later become the crowning of Paul and them of him.
The ‘crowning’ moment of anything is its outcome.
That’s what drove Paul; that’s what he strove for, toiling hard even against the staunchest resistance—from all manner of quarters. But the crowning moment makes all the sacrifice of love worth it.
A Bilateral Joy
Paul pleasured very much in the Thessalonians and this section really gives voice to his fatherly pride in them.
Imagining how it must be when this crowning joy becomes the fruit of two parties’ labours is like picturing a wedding where partners accede most graciously and passionately to be with each other, giving themselves to the other, voluntarily, almost without thought and certainly without hesitation.
Here we find that the mentor (Paul) and those mentored are in amid of one another much to the point of mutual ascension. Both desire from within their cores to raise the other up.
The leader has the prerogative to lead by example in this.
They’ll be judged on how well they’ve led by way of the results of the mentored; those led. A leader can only blame themselves for not succeeding when there’s a straightforward process for discipleship, which is simply to serve via the example of modelling love.
Marriages of Fellowship Everywhere
We’re not apt in our Western cultures, not even in our churches, to recognise these marriages of kindly Christian fellowship.
But they do exist, and the halcyon of Christian involvement is to be involved on either or both sides of this ‘crowning’ process—seen from the eternal perspective i.e. the cause of or receipt of our crowns from Jesus himself—as mentor/leader or learner/follower.
It’s in this context, within the setting of the individual rapport, that we become each others’ crowning glory in the overall plan of God. And in this we deflect any of the glory coming our way in Christ over to the other, and they in turn attempt the very same thing.
This is real Christian love, and that which is resplendently known in the hearts of both!
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.