Paul and Co. are constantly grateful because the Thessalonians received the words of God. This sounds like take two of chapter one verse two. What’s kind of funny is I’ve been teaching soccer players how to receive the ball, which is an analogy of receiving the words of God. Some players make no contact with the ball, while others players make contact with the ball but choose the wrong part of the body to receive it. Other players may make contact with the right part of the body but fail to absorb any energy when receiving the ball causing it to explode off their body part losing control of the ball. How often people simply never position themselves to receive God’s word. Others try and comprehend out of their futile flesh. Some people immediately repel the words of God when it is spoken. I think appropriate reception of the words of God is a result of my mind and heart knowing and receiving through faith the authenticity of God.
Paul elaborates by demonstrating that God’s words work supernaturally in believers. How brilliant that God would choose words, who is the Word, to constantly be at work in us. As recent as this morning God chose to use words spoken through my pastor, Josh Lindstrom, to convict and transform my life. Though it be words he spoke from God’s word weeks ago, His words are working in me.
I see from this text that faith in God’s word has a recognizable response; endurance under pressure. Paul is encouraged by their faith and as he reflects, the endurance in affliction of the Thessalonians imitates the stamina of Judea churches. Though Judea’s persecutors were different their response is and must be the same.
Paul is not delighted with the Jews who persecuted the churches in Judea and rehearses all that the Jews were responsible for:
- killing Jesus
- killing the prophets
- driving out at Paul & Co.
- displeasing God and opposing mankind
- by hindering Paul & Co. from speaking to the Gentiles so they may be saved (Acts 13:48-51; 14:2,19;17:5-10)
Paul indicates that the Jews continue to fill up the measure of their sins, but he is confident God is measuring and enforcing His wrath upon them. What a cataclysmic challenge for the early church to denounce God’s outstretched hand to the Gentiles. Empathizing with the Jews I think I can comprehend their hesitancy, yet they went to the extreme of sinful rejection of this people opposing God’s plan. What a tragedy for me to miss God’s movement in my life. God have I rejected what you are attempting to accomplish? God help me to yield my spirit to the Holy Spirit and may the Holy Spirit through your word make it evident what you are seeking to accomplish. May I never step in and hinder who you are pursuing. Paul & Co. are totally pumped because the Thessalonians have accepted God’s word as truth in the worst of scenarios and are choosing courageous obedience rather than fear and disobedience.
I’m still baffled thinking about what the Thessalonians would have been thinking as they read the letter as a group. Paul congratulates us for enduring persecution well.