My first job out of college was working as a touring audio engineer. The people I encountered in this environment where not only nonbelievers, but they were the type of people who ridiculed others for their faith. Whether a joke at my expense or outright ridicule for what I believed, the first five years of my professional career were filled with a form of religious persecution. Not only was this difficult on my walk with the Lord, but it was extremely difficult to try and love those who were persecuting me for my beliefs.
- When have you experienced persecution or opposition in response to your faith?
READ THE WORD: 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 (ESV)
13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. 14 For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!
- What were Paul and his companions specifically thankful for?
- Why was it important that the church at Thessalonica accept the gospel as God’s word instead of man’s message?
- What did Paul say was at work in the Thessalonians in verse 13? What evidence was there that God’s word was at work in the Thessalonians?
- What were the Jews hindering Paul from doing, and what was the result of their interference (vs. 16)?
- Persecution of believers is on a rise around the world. What will your response be when that persecution is turned on you for what you believe?
RESPOND TO GOD
In this passage, Paul was exceedingly grateful that the gospel of Jesus Christ had taken such a hold in the lives of the Thessalonian believers that they were loving their neighbors in spite of the persecution they endured. They had taken seriously the command of Christ found in Luke 6:27-28, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” The world needs to see that kind of loving response from believers. It is through that representation of Christ and his gospel that lives will be changed.
- Make your prayer today that of Romans 12:14: Lord, help me bless those who persecute me, and never to curse them.