No Greek Holiday
Amazing God, You are rich in mercy and lavish in Your care of me. May Your great name be praised.
Read 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:5
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“There is joy in the Christian life, but it is often preceded by, and mysteriously intertwined with, struggle” (John White). We know it’s true.
In Acts there is a passing comment that Paul was alone in Athens (Acts 17:16), but here we have the full emotional content of that time. Paul was torn between his concern for the new believers in Thessalonica and his own joy and support in having his companions with him. In seeking to resolve the issue, he knew that his own feelings and suffering should not be reckoned in the equation, but that did not mean that he did not feel isolated as a lone Christian in Athens. How far are our ministry choices controlled by a desire for our own comfort rather than what is necessary to advance the Gospel?
Paul is aware that all ministry is spiritual, and that there is opposition to it. He regards the barriers to his own return to Thessalonica as Satanic (18). Probably the political authorities had banned him personally and he was only able to send his companions. But Paul also wants to put the situation into its theological context. Those who restrict Gospel ministry, for whatever reason, need to ask how their actions will be judged when Christ comes again and the church is revealed in its redeemed glory.
Satan not only works to restrict Gospel proclamation, he also uses persecution to tempt Christians to abandon their faith. Paul has particular concern for the new believers in Thessalonica. The message of the resurrection invites us to believe that we are secure in Christ, whatever people might do to us, but the reality of facing attacks can make us falter. If we feel like that after two thousand years of testimony to the power of Jesus, what was it like for new believers, then or now?
If someone told you God promises a trouble-free life, how would you respond? What are you struggling with right now?
Lord, I acknowledge I have been spared much hostility for You. I lift up brothers and sisters who face daily terror for their faith. Meet them in their need.
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