Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10
The Power of Christian Example
5c You know what kind of people we were when we visited you. We were there for you! 6 And you became just like we are. Just like the Lord is. After all, even in great turmoil, you accepted God's word with the joy only the Holy Spirit can give. 7 All the believers in Macedonia and Acacia look to you as examples. 8 Because of you, God's word has rung out, not only in Macedonia and Acacia. Your faith in the Lord has spread everywhere. So, nothing more needs to be said about your example. 9 What we've heard about you tells us how you welcomed us and how you rejected old ways to believe. Now you serve the living and true God. 10 Now you wait for his Son to return. God did raise Jesus from the dead. And, Jesus will save us from the trouble that will soon be here.
5c You know what sort of people we became among you, for you. 6 You became imitators of us and the Lord, welcoming the word in much distress with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to everyone trusting (the Lord) in Macedonia and Acacia. 8 For from you, the word of the Lord has rung out, not only in Macedonia and Acacia, but your faith in the Lord has gone out everywhere, so that we do not have need to say anything (about your example). 9 For (the reports) about you (explicitly) relate what sort of welcome we had among you and how you returned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, 10 to await his Son from heaven whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, the One saving us from the coming wrath.
Last week, Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians began with a blessing and praise. The community at Thessalonika had adopted the faith with great opposition. Unlike the internal strife in Corinthian assembly, this church had a cohesive faith with a sense of unity and purpose. The many competing religious movements among the pagans in the city, the extreme loyalty to Rome and the imperial cult from the city leaders, and fierce competition from the Jewish synagogue created an survival mentality among the local Christians. There was no time for cliques, fancy theologies, or leadership intrigue. The Thessalonians were true to the teaching and example of Paul and his friends. Indeed, Paul could see some of the opposition he faced on the road mirrored in the conditions at Thessalonika.. [1:6]
Because of their struggle, the Thessalonians gained a favorable reputation among the Christians in the region. [1:7] In fact, Paul implied their reputation had evangelistic power. Their church became an example for others. Why? In spite of the competition and social pressure, the Thessalonians proved themselves very hospitable, very open to the Paul's teaching, and very faithful to their new religion. [1:9-10]
Like their contemporaries, the Thessalonians should inspire us. We should emulate their qualities of gracious hospitality and spiritual openness, balanced with fidelity to the Christian message despite opposition and competing messages. They were patient and steadfast. So should we.
When have you been open to others lately? How has your hospitality and generosity helped you share the message of Jesus with others?