For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain.
In the 1970’s the anticipation of the return of Jesus was a big deal. One of the front runners for apocalyptic films was a movie entitled “A Thief in the Night”. Christians disappear in the rapture and a one world government is set up to control all those left behind. The government is trying to force everyone to receive a “mark” identifying loyalty to it. The main actor is constantly running to escape the persecution.
For young teens like myself the movie left you with two impressions. Am I really a Christian (how do I know I am a follower of Jesus and He counts me as one of his children)? And secondly, how would I respond under persecution?
Because of persecution, Paul only had six weekends to establish the church in Thessalonica. As mentioned before, this letter was to check on their health as a church and to encourage them to stand strong under persecution.
Paul was especially concerned that the “tempter” (clearly reference to Satan as mentioned in Matthew 4) would be successful in “tempting” the believers to fall away from continuing to follow Jesus, especially under persecution.
How might the tempter…tempt?
- Fear of physical harm might cause you to recant your faith
- Jesus tells us that the Spirit will be with us to help us during persecution, therefor we need not fear
- Accusatory thoughts about your relationship with Jesus
- Shame and guilt have an end goal of isolation because of unworthiness
- You must learn to take every thought captive and rejoice that you are a child of God
- Pressure of isolation
- There is great fear of being alone…all alone.
- Yet, Jesus has said and it is true, “Never will I leave you nor forsake you.”
Three main ways to combat these types of attacks from the enemy
- Keep being filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)
- Learning to connect and live with the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit is the primary gift to followers of Jesus
- Live in close relationships with other believers of the body of Christ
- Each member has a gift to encourage others to stand strong
- A healthy member both shares their gift and receives life from others.
- Learn the power and depth of forgiveness for your sin that Jesus offers
- Revelation 12:10b-11 For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
- It is not our sin that defines us, but living in grace of Jesus’ forgiveness
This world is changing, but persecution of Christians continues. Listen to this quote from an article in Open Doors about a Pakistani believer in the late 19th century who was being persecuted for his faith.
“Discouraged by their threats, some of the believers gave in to their demands. But Pipo stood firm. “I can bear to be driven from my home, to drink pond water and live like a dog or Jackal on whatever I can find to eat, but I cannot bear to be separated from my Savior or deny Him.”
May your love for Christ be intimate now, so you remain faithful when the storms come.
Blessings Love y’all