Today you should read: 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10
After his initial prayer, Paul describes the conversion of the Thessalonians. Paul, even at the beginning of this letter, was setting up his message—that enduring through persecution and suffering is accomplished through personal holiness, love, and a focus on future hope in Jesus. Today’s passage, though very brief, is an excellent reminder for us in this unique season in which we find ourselves.
Even as new converts, the Thessalonians imitated Paul and the Lord in the Joy of the Holy Spirit, becoming an example to the faithful. Note, however, that their faith was received in much affliction. In much of our area, and even our county, a person is celebrated when they “become a Christian.” This is so true, that kids who grow up in church, out of a desire to please parents and grandparents, make a disingenuous profession of faith. They may even fully believe they are saved because they go to church, got baptized, they’re American, they pray sometimes when they need something, or they’re a good person—that God grades on a curve and the “good people,” the upper fifty-percent, make it. A celebrated conversion looks good and feels good, but that is not the experience of the Thessalonians.
Receiving Christ for the Thessalonians cost them something. Their conversion wasn’t celebrated. They knew that to trust Christ meant facing persecution. But they also knew that a relationship with Christ was worth any price they’d have to pay.
Paul said that they “turned to God from idols.” I’ve mentioned it a lot recently, but if the coronavirus has done nothing, it has shown many of us the futility of our idols. Paul was referring to the literal idols, the false gods of Greece and Rome, that were so much a part of culture and everyday life. However, as many have said, our hearts are “idol-factories.” We may not live in a culture of false-gods, but that doesn’t mean we don’t misplace our worship. Making anything besides God ultimate is idolatry.
For many people, our current circumstances are bringing “much affliction.” Now is the time, like the Thessalonians to be receivers of the Word and examples to those around us. We must be examples not only in how we cope, but showing others our hope. One of the biggest challenges many of us are facing is simply uncertainty. We don’t know the future, but we can know the “living and true God.”
In Him, we have hope. We understand that our trials are temporary. It is in Jesus that we will be delivered. In this season of uncertainty, let us be people of hope. Let our holiness and love be an example to others. Let us turn from our idols, lean into the Lord, and let us understand that our one and only Savior is not a job, economic stability, health, or comfort, it is only Jesus.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate
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