Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of Good but our lives as well. — 1 Thessalonians 2:8
If you are looking for a neat religion where nothing gets mishandled and dirty, scraped and torn, then the life of a Jesus follower wouldn’t be for you. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul mentions two things he shared in the disciple-making relationship which by their very nature were messy: The Gospel and his life.
What could be messier than God’s plan of redemption? I’m not saying it isn’t orderly. Or that it isn’t beautiful. But, it just isn’t neat. It has blood on it and dirt and sin and heavy grime all over it. It really should blow your mind when you think about how messy it is.
I would suggest you think about the sort of God who would be perfect in holiness, who embodies absolute moral perfection and yet would willfully descend from His righteous throne in the heavens to live in the midst of sinful people. A God with dirty human feet and dirty human hands in a body that suffered the effects of Original Sin, choosing the outcasts and the messy ones to save. Calling messy disciples who made messes and living with them and mixing His life with theirs. Then putting Himself through the messiness of a trial, torture, and finally death on a Cross so that he could redeem us all :: That is so messy!
Then, add to this the mess that was Paul’s life! All the things he endured for the sake of spreading the Gospel! Just listen to the way Paul described the life he’d lived following Jesus and I’ll let you decide how messy it was
“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open-sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” – 2 Corinthians 11: 24-27
Now, that is a messy life! This messy Gospel and this messy life was what he shared with the believers in Thessalonica to plant in them the seed of transformation.
Messiness can be embarrassing. When your mom pops in and your house is covered in laundry mountains, your kitchen sink is filled with dishes and the trash hasn’t been taken out, its embarrassing. As sweet as your ma is, it’s still embarrassing, kid.
But, regardless of the mess, Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, “we were delighted to share with you…our lives…” That is the goal in discipleship. To move from embarrassment over what we made of our lives to the full acceptance of God’s grace and let it produce in us a genuine sense of delight in sharing our lives.
It’s transformation. From embarrassment to delight. Inviting people into the mess and showing them around and confidently mixing our lives with theirs because of love.