I have been very moved this past week as I have contemplated Paul’s heart for his friends in Thessalonica. He longed to see them but couldn’t. His circumstances prevented him from doing so. He prayed often for them asking the Lord to sustain them, protect them and help them grow in faith and dependence on God. He thought the worse and expected that their faith in Jesus would begin to fade and eventually die. It was tough times out there for the young Christians as they faced enormous opposition. They were very young and immature in their understanding of Christina things. They had no leaders. So out of great concern for them Paul sent Timothy on a fact finding mission to see whether they were any Christians left in Thessalonica.
Timothy returned with a glowing and positive report. Paul was ecstatic that his much loved friends had not only held onto their faith but lived it out for the glory of God. It is hard to imagine how tough this would have been for the young Christians. So what was at the core of their ability to not only hold onto their faith but to grow and make a difference to their community and beyond? Paul tells us quite empathetically what the origin was for their change and ability to step out in faith. We discover this in our Bible reading today in a handful of verses that should provide us with great encouragement.
There are five points of origin or truth that will help us realize how we can be transformed and changed for the glory of God. It has much to do with our understanding of the word of God and how we allow it to influence and impact our life. Paul shares about the importance of hearing the word; receiving it; accepting it and allowing the word of God to act in our lives. But he does not leave it there are he reminds us that there will be a cost to us as we allow this word to impact our life. Paul says that trouble will come our way just as it has done to countless others in churches around the globe. It seems there is a disdain for those who follow Jesus and out of this disdain comes hatred and persecution. It appears that this comes with the name we associate ourselves with and that is Jesus!
Let us be encouraged and enriched by the fact that for those of us who are in Christ there is strength and power available for each of us to stand firm in our faith and make an impact on the world for God’s glory. It all depends on what we do with the word of God – Jesus!