Division Yet Growth
Christian brothers and sisters who get in a fight and then can’t resolve it. Pastoral staffs that rip apart over different points of view over strategies to reach different age groups, Christian psychologists who set up practice together, write books together, but then get in a fight over finances that ends up in court. Older evangelists who nurture a young protégé but then turn against him when the younger man’s program gets aired on more stations. This kind of conflict tempts me to want to doubt. “Maybe this Jesus thing isn’t true after all.”
I find myself asking, “If Jesus generates all this love and unity then why can’t his children get along?” But then I remember what Jesus did when Paul and Barnabas, the dynamic duo in the first missionary journey in Acts, got into an intense conflict over John Mark before they could even take a step into the second missionary journey (cf. Acts 15:36-40). Barnabas boarded a ship with his nephew, John Mark, for Cyprus while Paul took a Jerusalem Jewish Christian and took off by land for Asia Minor.
Like Paul, Silas was Jewish but also a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37), and when Paul writes back to the new baby church at Thessalonica from Corinth, Silas is right there at his side, along with their new young assistant from Lystra, Timothy.
“Paul and Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.” 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2
God did show grace as he not only used Barnabas and Mark as they took off for Crete, but also Paul and Silas and Timothy as they took the land route through Turkey all the way to the west coast of Greece. In his greeting as he begins his first letter to the Thessalonians, just as he did in Philemon, Paul turns the usual Greek greeting to “grace” and roots the Jewish “shalom” directly to the union of God, the Father, with his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul’s use of “Lord” stresses that Jesus is divine, “Jesus” that he has saved us, and “Christ” that he is the promised Messiah from the Old Testament. We also see again the importance of team as Paul begins his letter reminding the Thessalonians of the threesome who served them in Thessalonica
LORD, thanks that you can take a divide and instead of destroying your work, you can multiply it by creating even more gifted men and women devoted to sharing your Gospel and then equipping those who respond to grow.
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