Life is tough. There’s really no doubt about this statement. Just look at your T.V. and see for yourself just how tough life is. I must confess to you that just reading about all the struggles the prophets and disciples of the early Church went through in sharing The Faith can bring about more doubts than beliefs in my mind. Really, in order to get the message of Acts into our understanding of Faith is difficult if taken seriously. Why did so many of the believers have to suffer as they did? The answer ought to give to us today more strength and confidence to believe, not because they did, but because Christ their Lord was with them. We celebrate as Christ is with us in our life, as our rudder, and if need be, our life-saver.
It’s like the writer of “A Bible Commentary” on Acts, William H. Willimon, who offers much of what I have used as an resource, wrote in his preface: “As a preacher, I have struggled through many a Sunday morning desperately trying to coax an unwilling congregation into the murky, stagnant waters of history by convincing them that a twenty-minute plunge into the past would do them a lot of good.” Written like the good preacher he was, Dr. Willimon must have served a very upbeat congregation, who did not want to learn more about Church history than what they knew. This is not the first time in my many years of preaching and teaching in The Church, that I have felt a gap in the preaching and teaching of what has happened in the struggle of church history. A lot has happened, The Church is Alive!
In our reading we have learned that Paul and Silas had traveled clear into region of Thessalonica. The first thing Paul did, as was his custom, was go to the synagogue where he loved to debate with those who knew scripture. Paul explained the necessity of the Messiah Jesus having to suffer, die and rise from the dead to fulfill scripture. Paul was a great scholar; he had studied scripture so he could explain why it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer. His argument was so effective many were brought along to believe Jesus was truly God’s Son, who died upon the cross for the redemption of sin. In our reading we learn that those who were against Paul and Silas stirred up the crowd to throw them out of the city. So they left for more fertile grounds.
We were able to learn in our reading that Paul had great success in planting Christ’s Church in this metropolitan city, which became a fully believing and accepting Christian Community. Paul was able to write two letters to this community of faith later. They are known as 1 & 2 Thessalonians in the New Testament of our canonized Bible. Turning there we read to learn that Paul wrote: “For we know beloved by God, that God has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit.” I Thess. 1: 5. From our lesson we have learned that those who walked in faith were aided by God’s Holy Spirit, all the way from the beginning of Christ’s Church even to our day! Every one of us have our own tales of woe, but in comparison to our brothers and sisters found in Acts, we have much more working for us. Through the Holy Spirit we know Christ lives within each of us.
O Lord, thank You, for just like the Christians of old always walked in the safety and love of The Holy Spirit, we know You are with us in our day. In The Savior’s Name, we pray. Amen.