Surely a church leader should never boast!
Not according to the apostle Paul. In 2 Thessalonians 1, Paul boasts in other churches about the Thessalonians, and as I read his reasons for boasting this morning, I readily thought of the St Peter's Church Family and the current crisis we're facing:
3 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. 4 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. (ESV)
It's been a delight to see many people's faith grow 'abundantly' over the past few months. For some, faith in Christ is entirely new; for others, it's a growing, deepening experience. As our trust and appreciation of the love of Christ grows, so our love for others increases, and again, I've seen that over recent months.
The challenge now is how we continue to nourish our walk with Christ and how we express our love for one another. So I'm working on plans for Sundays. Phil, Lindsey & I are working to link people up with one another so that the 'strong' can adopt the 'weak'. We'll be in touch in due course.
So I boast about you! Yes, really! In fact I did just this afternoon in a phone call to another minister, and I do regularly when non-Christians ask me about St Peter's. But as I boast, I must do so humbly because as Paul goes on to say,
11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
None of this is down to me. It's God who called you, and he who fulfills your 'resolve for good' and your 'work of faith'. It's he who is 'glorified in you - and you in him' (don't forget that), and all this is through his effective and powerful grace.
So this morning I gave thanks to God for you, then I prayed that God would make you worthy of his calling by pouring his grace into your hearts. Glory be to Jesus our Lord!