“You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 1:6-9
A quick reading of the first several verses of Acts 17 provides some background about the violent beginnings of the Thessalonian church. We always have to be careful not to think of MOMENTUM as being equal to GOOD TIMES. In fact, the Scriptures are clear that momentum is best set into motion through turbulence and trouble. Struggles are not signs that God has forgotten you, they are beacons that let us know that God is at work.
Because of the perseverance of the Thessalonian church in the middle of chaos and struggle, they became a model church – an example for all believers. In fact, because of their momentum the gospel ‘rang out’ throughout the region. Chrysostom thought that Paul was likening the preaching of the gospel to ‘the sound of a loud trumpet.’ Jerome described Paul’s writings as … “Not words but thunderclaps”. There wasn’t anything demure or ashamed in these early Christian lives. Quite the opposite. How much gospel thunder is coming from your church? From your life?
Maybe more than you think. Most Christians I know face many trials – and many of them do so with such grace that the gospel lives through their lives. You may be the ‘model’ Christian to people you do not even know. None of us knows the scope of our influence. The truth is that the gospel may be proclaimed every day without you being aware. That doesn’t excuse us from saying a good word for Christ, but I do want us to know that the message is already emanating from us. Christian influence is no small matter. Henry Ward Beecher said, “The humblest individual exerts some influence, either for good or evil, upon others.”
One of the ways that we proclaim the faith is by turning away from idols. We need to have a great turning away from idols today: money, science, sex, sports, self – people make them gods when they put them before the one and true God! Momentum … perseverance… endurance is gained when we continue to live out the gospel message under the weight of suffering.
I have one more source of momentum to write about.
Thanks for reading,