I have been spending time in 1 Thessalonians in preparation for teaching a series in our class the next few weeks. I am always touched by the tenderness of this letter of Paul to the church in Thessalonica. The genuine love and concern for this group of believers pushes all the buttons in me that long for acceptance and affirmation.
I was quite surprised as I dug into the background of the book to discover that Paul had likely spent only 3 weeks with the people that so captured a place in his heart.
His mission to this city is recorded in Acts 17 and tells how some of the Jews, a large number of Greeks and not a few prominent women believed. These conversions caused an uproar in the city and Paul and Silas were sent away so as not to be harmed.
The city of Thessalonica was pagan and this band of new, and diverse, Christians was a problem. They lived counter culture and suffered persecution as a result of it.
All from a three week mission trip visit by Paul and Silas followed by prayers prayed for them and letters of encouragement.
So here they are, this baby church, made up of some Jews and a whole lot of former pagans living in an ungodly culture that is persecuting them and what instruction do they receive on how to cope with all of this….
<3 Be holy and sanctified with your bodies; stay away from things that are sexually immoral (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)
<3 Love, love and then increase in love for your fellow believers (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10)
<3 Strive to lead quiet lives (1 Thessalonians 4:11)
<3 Mind your own business – don’t gossip or spread stories or get involved in such talk (1 Thessalonians 4:11)
<3 Be conscientious and diligent in the work you that do for a living (1 Thessalonians 4:11)
<3 Let your reputation speak your testimony to unbelievers (1 Thessalonians 4:12)
We live in an increasingly idolatrous and sexually explicit culture. The idea that America is a “Christian” nation is rapidly becoming not only just an ideal for some of us but quite unpopular for many of our fellow citizens.
And the Church is at odds with each other.
It can become very wearing and frightening as we look around at how rapidly things are moving away from Biblical Truth and we can feel very alone.
But none of it takes God by surprise.
He is still on His Throne. He is the same…yesterday, today, forever….yet always doing a new thing.
He was at work in Thessalonica in 50 AD and He is at work in your town today.
Look back over the instructions of Paul.
Better yet, read through both 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Several times. Each.
Let the words of God’s truth fall fresh on your weary heart.
By living out the Word we believe, let’s trust God that we will begin to influence those around us, as we become imitators of Him…not the world.