Reading: 1st Thessalonians 2: 1-8
Verse Two: With the help of God we dared to tell you His gospel in spite of strong opposition.
Having faith can be difficult. What is happening to the Thessalonians happens to believers today. Their faith is wavering, the voices of the world are clamoring, Jesus has not returned yet. In the midst of all that life can bring, it can be easy to have our faith waver. Those voices of the world and the temptations of Satan can put us hard to the test. As we look around at the world and perhaps even at our own lives, we can long for Jesus to return to redeem all things.
The culture of Paul’s world and the culture of Thessalonica is much like ours today. The Christians are a minority within a culture and society that worships many false idols and chases after many earthly pleasures. It can be a dangerous place to preach the gospel. It was in Paul’s day too. Fresh off a testing and trying experience in Philippi, Paul declares, “With the help of God we dared to tell you His gospel in spite of strong opposition”. Not one to be deterred, Paul fondly recalls sharing the gospel in Thessalonica. At times we too must dare to share the gospel. For Paul, it was well-received and a strong church emerged. This letter comes some time after the initial visit and Paul is writing to encourage and to teach this new group of believers.
Paul states a couple of different ways that God is the center of it all. He speaks as a man approved by God and tested by God. He speaks with God as his witness, never seeking praise or approval from men. As we seek to engage the least and the lost of our communities, we too must begin here. God must be at the core and we must lead out as God guides and directs, keeping our focus on God alone. Paul says that he was “like a mother caring for her little children”. This is the second imperative we get from today’s Word. We must genuinely love those we share the gospel with. This means a willingness to fully commit, to humbly serve, to offer all we can to help another grow closer to Jesus Christ. May our focus be on God and on loving others as He first loved us; God will take care of the rest.