A HOSTILE AUDIENCE
After we had already suffered and been mistreated in Phillip, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition. I Thess. 2:2
Remember how you felt the last time you felt you needed to say some things you knew would not be well received? I do. I didn’t sleep for many nights prior to speaking up.
It’s difficult enough when it’s a stranger. Let it be a family member or a friend and the anxiety spikes because the risks are so high. There is the possibility of rejection as well as the pain of knowing you are about to cause someone to be hurt by your words. No wonder we are prone to self-protect and hide our true feelings. We’d rather live in internal conflict than speak up and live with the painful consequences. How painful, and often irreparable, those consequences can be.
If I follow Jesus, then I follow Him into controversy. He spoke the truth when it was popular and was bold to speak His Father’s words even when it cost Him His life. At one point, Jesus said that He came to bring a sword, not peace. In other words, truth is often divisive.
God’s servants outside of our country’s borders make these kinds of tough choices every day. This past Sunday, there were pastors who had to make the decision whether or not to preach, knowing that if they did, they would be imprisoned. I am embarrassed to say that I have often hidden the truth, fearing I might lose a job, or a friend, or create a shift in family dynamics. I pray this kind of compromise is behind me.
Paul had the credibility to speak to the believers in Thessalonica about any issue because He brought the message of Christ to them at great personal peril. Think of how seriously you would take someone’s words if they risked their life to deliver them to you. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” He proved it when he was beheaded under Nero’s rule, in 60 A.D. Knowing this, I Thessalonians will never read the same to me again.
Jesus, every word you spoke counted; even when it cut across the grain of your public, and private, worlds. Help me when it cuts into my audience, both public and personal. Amen