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.
2 Thessalonians 1:3
Paul remarks on two visible attributes of Christian community that were the distinguishing traits of the church in Thessalonica. The first of these is faith. And really, it is the first character quality of a Christian. In order to trust in Christ for eternal salvation and real life perspective, you gotta' have faith! Faith is not just a mystical belief in the irrational. I see it instead as the core ability to trust God at His Word.
Faith attends the facts of the gospel. And it is a choice. And you have faith in something. Everyone does. For the Thessalonian culture the choice was between faith in Christ rather than a faith in pagan idolatry. In our culture right now, it is a choice between faith in Christ against a pagan naturalism. In other cultures it might be a choice between Christ and the State. Any form of personal philosophy REQUIRES an exercise of faith.
The second character trait in the text is love. This is the most accessible aspect of Christianity. Faith may be personal, but love is personable. It is known as it is seen in action in the Church. It brings together the Body of Christ. It is the experience that creates unity around the love Christ has for us as know it in the gospel. And that love is what can ultimately show that our faith is real.
What a true delight it is to live in faith and in love. And to know all of that within the church is an amazing experience. It is personally transforming and empowering. I have lived my life here and have only great joys (even in the hardships) to show for it in my heart. Faith grows and love increases! And that is what my heart always prays to know.