“Commendable Faith”
1 Thessalonians 2.13-16

The contemporary issues that swirl through every current news report do not merely test the fringes of decency.  Instead, they barge right into the middle of moral and spiritual benchmarks and declare a new definition to the basics of life.  It is unsettling to most in our country.

Conversations that address these modern-day redefinitions are not friendly.  Relativism permeates the discussions.  In particular when historical values are jettisoned in the name of evolutionary thinking, common sense citizens are deeply puzzled.

A priori truths are choices that have been made in the past with the acceptance that they would never have to be made again.  This is like a foundation for a building.  Once it is laid, it will not be changed or adjusted.  It is locked in place.

Matters of our faith and morality are like these. They are not open for adjustment when someone decides that they want to change what is wrong and declare that it is now acceptable behavior.  God made the rules.  The pot still may not tell the potter what to do.

There was another time in human history when the flurry of contemporary opinion attempted to sway the moral and spiritual moorings of truth.  The Apostle Paul in the aftermath of Jesus’ betrayal, humiliation and crucifixion sensed the popular attempt to get rid of His followers.  However, there was a church at Thessalonica that was resilient in their faith.

Courage to hold to their faith became their reputation that spread throughout the world.  When the gospel of Jesus Christ was brought to them they recognized it as truth and received it.  They discerned that while preachers spoke this good news, the message was not from men.  Rather, they saw that it was the word of God.

This was not a decision that was easy or comfortable.  In fact as a result of their faith in the gospel they suffered persecution.  Paul likened their painful experience to the Jesus followers in Judea who suffered at the hands of the Jews.

Faith is not necessarily proven through the crucible of painful trial but it certainly is not stranger to it.  History has proven this.  Furthermore, the Lord Himself experienced this same violent reaction

Paul is the author of the difficult words laying culpability at the feet of the Jews.  They did kill Jesus.  However, Paul is not being ethnically negative here.  It was not a matter of a people or nation that the Apostle is finding offensive.  It was the rejection of the gospel that he feels so deeply burdened.

No one can deny that Jesus was crucified.  Those who were responsible for His arrest, trial and execution are a historical fact.  Nevertheless, the heart of the story is the rejection of God’s Son and the unbelief in the sacrifice for man’s redemption.  This is true.  What is morally right is the acknowledgment of God’s great gift to man for his salvation.

The offense of Jesus’ followers being persecuted is horrific by itself. However, God is offended by a greater disaster.  When Christians are persecuted for their faith, then bystanders see it and refuse to believe for fear of the retribution as well.  The displeasure of God is even more on the effect of treating believers with antagonism.

Hurting others as an intimidation to prevent faith from spreading is a serious spiritual crime.  God calls it sin.  He is keeping track of these sins.  They are piling up.

It is bad enough when a person chooses disbelief over faith when he is presented the gospel of Jesus Christ.  However, when he goes beyond his own rejection and attempts to keep others from believing he will be judged by God most severely. This judgment was certainly felt when Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome.  At the same time, Israel as a nation would lose out on the blessings of being a faithful nation of God, when the church comprised of all, both Jew and Gentile, who put their faith in Christ.

Paul wanted the Thessalonians to keep strong in their faith. In the same vein he wanted those who opposed the faith of believers would be in grave spiritual danger.  Humans easily excuse their rejection of the gospel by distracting their culpability with their dislike for the messenger.

LAPP (Life Application): Look beyond the human preacher and hear the message that God has given him.  Never get in the way of the gospel being presented to people who need to come to faith for their eternity through Jesus Christ.  Believe yourself and then be a part of spreading the good news.