A TRUE SPIRITUAL FATHER
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. I Thess. 1:1
Paul wasn’t alone when he took the Gospel to the Thessalonians. He was supported by two ministry partners on that particular missionary journey; Silus and Timothy. They traveled with him as he presented the message of Christ in the synagogues for three consecutive Sabbaths, reasoning with those who posed questions and raised objections. God blessed it among some who heard. Some prominent Jews and Greeks believed and joined the ranks of Christianity.
Other Jews were enraged, however, and rose up to strike against the preachers and the new believers. Those who had come to faith were concerned for Paul’s safety so they sent him and his partners on to Berea. It was a sacrifice to say goodbye to the very ones who had brought them the message of Jesus. They were parting with their teachers, knowing that they would face the fires of persecution alone. Isn’t it easier to suffer when you hold the hand of a mentor nearby? One who offers wisdom, comfort, and prayers?
Even after leaving town, Paul couldn’t forget them. He knew they were being hunted down and were suffering greatly for their new faith. He wrote this letter even though he was enduring persecution himself. (The Jews in Thessalonica had not only chased him out-of-town, but had followed him to Berea to persecute him there! They were driven to silence him, so much so that they formed a posse to track him to the next city.)
While many itinerant teachers might have relegated the visit to Thessalonica a ‘nightmare’ and be tempted to erase the experience from their memory, Paul keeps the converts in his heart. He knew their faith was tenuous. He knew that he needed to cup his hand around their flickering flame of faith and continue to gently blow on the embers. The letters of I and II Thessalonians are the wind of his love and parental concern.
Join me over these many weeks as we hear the heart of a true spiritual father. For any who suffer, there is comfort and courage in his words. For any who lead, there is a lesson in servant leadership.
Paul, even in the fire, is able to love. Would I be as gracious, Lord? Or, would I be consumed by my own suffering? May Paul’s love for others, even in adverse circumstances, inspire me. In Jesus’ name, Amen