(1 Thessalonians 2:7 NASB)
Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.
(1 Thessalonians 2:8 NASB)
It's interesting that the Apostle Paul uses this metaphor of a nursing mother for himself as he considers how he and the others who were traveling with him had cared for the people in the church of Thessalonica. Paul traveled during much of his ministry experience spending chunks of time in one place and then in another. Paul's spiritual leadership should be an example to all of us for his focus was not simply on teaching in an unattached setting with his students, instead he became deeply and personally involved in the lives of those whom God had placed into his care.
One of the greatest experiences in life was becoming a mother. I will never forget the day that the doctor handed me our oldest daughter Christy. From that first moment when I looked into her eyes I was in love and it was a type of love that I had never felt before in my entire life. Here in my arms was a little person that I would be willing to die for! As a mother I had the privilege of nursing her. This in itself is an incredible experience that God has created. In the busyness of life when it's time to nurse, there is nothing else you can do. You stop, you put everything else aside and you focus on that little person that you are going to spend the next few minutes with, as you are able to provide them nourishment, but also simply moments of lovingly looking into their eyes. When babies are small their focus distance is about 18" -- about the distance from the mothers breast to her eyes. This is God's intention, his plan for the nurturing of this little one. Quiet, sweet moments of nourishment and love. And this is how the Apostle Paul described his relationship with the new believers in Thessalonica.
Think about how we as Christians sometimes respond to those in the world who are living in sin. Young people today will often say they love Jesus but they hate the church. Why is that? Because, if we take a hard look at ourselves, we probably have not been acting like a nursing mother with the world. Unfortunately it is the people who do extreme acts in the name of Christ who get on the news. Sadly, the ones who do minister and nurture like the Apostle Paul do not get the press. But, it's not about getting the press, it's about being obedient followers of Jesus Christ and interacting with our world in the way that God intended.
Every follower of Jesus Christ is called to make disciples, who will make disciples, who will make disciples. Paul is our role model. He didn't just bring the gospel to people, he brought his very self. He didn't just teach on an intellectual level, he loved on a very personal level. If we are going to share the good news about Jesus Christ with our world, then we have to help the world see Jesus in us. The world is hungry to see the true Jesus interacting with them and this we can do if we will bring the good news, and also be willing to bring ourselves. We must be willing to invest in the people of this world on a very personal level; giving, sharing, loving and nurturing. God places people into our care that need to be loved just as a nursing mother stops and takes time to simply nourish and love on that beautiful baby which has been placed into her arms.
Lord, may I pour myself out to love the world with your love. Amen.