1 Thessalonians 3:1-5
3 So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain.
As I read Paul’s encouragement to the 1st century Church right through the New Testament in the Bible, including in this passage we read today, I confess that I really struggle.
It’s not just that I don’t really like the idea of people being persecuted for their beliefs (which I don’t), but there is something deeper and more personal going on for me.
I admire the boldness of those of the New Testament Church. Filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, they literally changed the world. And I aspire to follow their model, but as I read these passages, I realise that boldness in the face of persecution is an area that I feel like I will fall very short of the model described.
The people in the first century church were being overtly and publicly persecuted, yet they boldly proclaimed their faith and continued to effectively share the Gospel message. Today, I feel that there is a distinct covert persecution of Christians in the western world, particularly around the notion of sharing of the faith that we hold. But for me, I feel like there is a real timidity and over-cautiousness in how I have responded to this persecution.
Dear Lord, please send us a modern-day Timothy so that none of us would be unsettled by these trials. May we be encouraged in our faith and stand bold in witness to Your message so that we will be found faithful to You.
Written by Ps Justin Ware