One of Paul’s first letters was written to the Thessalonians. He celebrates a flourishing Church where believers are standing strong in their commitment to Jesus despite persecution and suffering. Following Jesus has always produced a truly counter-cultural holy way of life that will sometimes generate suspicion and conflict among unbelievers. Followers of Christ response to such hostility should always be with love, and they should meet opposition with grace and generosity. Throughout 1 Thessalonians, we see how the Thessalonian Church embodies holiness, love, and a future hope as they remain firm in their faith and commitment to Jesus their King.
The question that hit me as I read Paul’s commendation to this church that endured hardship so well is, “Why am I not persecuted?” Jesus himself said that in this world you will have trouble, but we could be of good cheer because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). I didn’t like that answer. The number one reason that any believer throughout time has been persecuted is because the world around them has been able to observe their faith in action along with hearing their faith in the words they speak. The reality is that if I’m not being persecuted, there’s a pretty good chance that I am not allowing the light of Jesus Christ to shine bright enough through me by the power of the Holy Spirit. If I were, the world around me should be convicted of sin and either respond by becoming Christ-followers themselves or by rejecting the message and therefore at times the messenger.
This is a prayer I pray daily for myself and TCC Partners: Heavenly Father, please grant me boldness to share my faith in Jesus with the people I meet today. Thank you that the gospel is good news of great joy, and not something to be embarrassed about. Give me sufficient love for the lost that I’ll be willing to risk my reputation and raise my head above the parapet and be known as yours. Fill me with your Spirit today so that I might have the right words to say, and not to be nervous about making a fool of myself. Have mercy, Lord. Amen.
Will you join with me in praying for boldness to share your faith as well even if it means you will be persecuted?