Persecuted by Your Own
It’s one thing to get attacked by a total stranger. It’s tougher when it is someone you know, especially your own people. Whether it’s bullying by classmates in a high school or vehement attacks from your friends on Facebook because they disagree about a political or social issue, all of us have suffered name-calling, false accusations, and ostracism, but in the first century young believers faced persecution that went far beyond words. And the tough part was that it came from their own people.
When Paul came to Thessalonica, he went to the Jews first in the synagogue and powerfully argued from their Scriptures that Jesus fulfilled the prophesies made in their Scriptures that a son of David would be declared to be God’s Son, be rejected, executed, and then rise again. Paul used passages like Psalm 16, 22, and 110, Zechariah 12, and Isaiah 53 from the Scriptures he was raised in that Jesus was the Messiah. Some of the Jews in Thessalonica accepted Paul’s Gospel and this spread out to their idolatrous Gentile friends.
Thessalonica divided between those who believed in Jesus and those who did not, and the majority who rejected Jesus tried to snuff out the flame of this new movement with hardball persecution. Paul comforted the baby Thessalonian believers by pointing out that their brothers and sisters in Judea faced this same kind of attack from their own people.
“We’re also constantly thanking God because when you received the word of God, that word you heard from us, you accepted it not as just a human word, but as it certainly is, the divine word from God—a word that continues to powerfully work in you. For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the Judean church, a church brought into being by the Messiah Jesus. The similarity is that, just as you are experiencing persecution from your own people, they, too, were persecuted by the Jews, their own people.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13-14
All this willingness to take heat over what they believed would be utter foolishness if we’re only talking about difference of opinion about religious, philosophical, and spiritual issues. But if the true God has spoken from heaven about his Son whom he sent into the world to die for us, to rise again to prove his claims, and who will one day return to set up his Kingdom, then we must be willing to take anything in order to help others to meet him.
LORD, thanks that you have spoken clearly and truthfully through your Son and we can continue to hear your voice clearly in your Word. Help me to be willing to take a little heat in order to lovingly help others meet your Son.
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