7 December 20171 Thessalonians 3:1-5
“We sent Timothy, our brother and co-worker for God in proclaiming the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you for the sake of your faith, so that no one would be shaken by these persecutions. Indeed, you yourselves know that this is what we are destined for.” (vv. 2-3)
Psalm: Psalm 134
Paul wrote these words in Athens, but he was concerned about what had happened to him in Thessalonica. He had been there for three weeks and had preached the gospel in the synagogue with great success. Many Jews had become Christians. But the Jewish authorities were so angry they hired a mob to get rid of Paul and to arrest those who had sheltered him. Paul was safely smuggled out of the town and sent to Beroea, but the same thing happened there and Paul had to flee to Athens for safety (Acts 17:1-9). But he knew that those new Christians would be anxious to hear what had happened and, more importantly, may have been discouraged in their newly found faith by the thought of his persecution and danger.
In this passage Paul sets out his concern that the Thessalonians should not be discouraged by any bad news that they had heard about his suffering. News travels fast and bad news even faster, but he reassures them that they if they stand fast in their faith they will find their security in the gospel. Things don't change much over the centuries …
Bad news stories hit the headlines: crime and evil every day
and, if there's no bad news story, speculation will hold sway.
Tweets and twitters full of fury fuel aggression, stir up hate
and when this erupts in violence, calming action comes too late.
Worry merchants fire anxiety; set the scene for doom and gloom.
Make predictions for disaster from the cradle to the tomb.
Rarely do the good news stories make it to the headline page.
Peaceful days and calm serenity must give way to tales of rage.
Yet there is one good news story all the world deserves to hear
of a God whose love and mercy changes lives and conquers fear.
If the headlines will not tell it who is there to spread the word?
Those of us who live the story must make sure it can be heard.
By our care and through our actions; by our witness to God's grace;
by our telling of Christ's story, we must give good news its place.
- When others are persecuted for their faith, how do you react?
- Have you suffered problems because of your beliefs? How did you cope?