Bible Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2
Have you ever gone to some ridiculous extent just to get something you wanted even if it didn’t really make rational sense? Like the fuel in the generator finished at 10 pm and you just had to watch the final episode of your favourite TV show or the final of the Champions League, so you passionately travelled the entire city in search of a filling station that was still open. Or maybe you gloriously endured a gridlock type of traffic on a hot Monday afternoon, then stood patiently in line for over an hour just to get that pounded yam and okro soup you had been craving all weekend.
And ordinarily, a tour around petrol stations in the city is certainly not your choice of a delightful night past-time. Neither is sweating profusely in traffic or standing in a queue with hungry Nigerians.
We know that it’s really simply down to a question of how much you want what you’re looking for.
The truth is desire validates pursuit! The length I am willing to go isn’t so much about how much distance there is to cover, but how much I want what is at the end of the road. There are actually no big or small obstacles. There are really no difficult journeys. There are no impossible hurdles. It’s simply a question of what I’m chasing… or what’s chasing me. I will scale the highest mountains, cross the deepest valleys and swim across the widest ocean if I want what is on the other side badly enough.
How much is a human soul worth to you? What is the weight of your desire when it comes to winning a human heart for Jesus?
I feel like our reading today paints the most amazing picture of how far a person can go in a tireless pursuit to reconcile lost hearts to Jesus. It blows my mind to see Paul offhandedly knock off a list of all kinds of obstacles, one after the other as if they mean nothing to him. Instead, he goes on and on about how much joy the Thessalonians bring to him by their newly found commitment to Jesus. What an inspiration!
What stands in your way of telling unsaved people in your world about Jesus? And what stands in your way of encouraging and strengthening people who already know Jesus? Does it look like a difficult road you’d rather avoid or an impossible task you feel incapable of taking on? Or just a subject you really don’t want to think about? I believe that our reading today loudly challenges us in three very profound ways:
- Go beyond your fear!
“…We were sure of ourselves in God, and went right ahead and said our piece, presenting God’s Message to you, defiant of the opposition.” 1 Thessalonians 2:2 (MSG)
Does fear hold you back from talking about Jesus to unsaved people in your world? Hello! Jesus Himself is the one who sends you!
“Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (MSG)
Have you ever gone on some errand to a person or place you ordinarily have no right to access, but you had some letter of authorization and very confidently went on your way? What a huge encouragement to know I’m not stepping out to start a God-conversation or inviting someone to church just because I want to. I have the authorization of Jesus! It’s His mission! Jesus, Savior of the world! This is isn’t about me, Jesus is the one who sends me!
- Go beyond your convenience!
“My dear friends, you surely haven’t forgotten our hard work and hardships. You remember how night and day we struggled to make a living, so that we could tell you God’s message without being a burden to anyone.” 1 Thessalonians 2:9 (CEV)
How far will you go beyond what is convenient if you knew it would make a difference between life or death for someone you love? Does ‘convenient’ even become a factor? How far beyond your convenience are you willing to go to start that conversation, make sure that person gets to attend service or get that neighbour to a watch party and so on, knowing that it could mean the difference between eternal life and eternal death?
May we be people who unearth endless possibilities of life over death! May we be people who constantly throw aside convenience in pursuit of even the tiniest possibility of a heart coming to Jesus.
- Go beyond the world’s system!
“…Now they have persecuted us, too. They fail to please God and work against all humanity as they try to keep us from preaching the Good News of salvation to the Gentiles. By doing this, they continue to pile up their sins. But the anger of God has caught up with them at last.” 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16
Our world is set up to oppose the Gospel of Jesus Christ! A joke on social media goes viral within minutes but an excerpt from a sermon barely gets a few shares. Societal systems, industries, sectors, spheres of influence and so on naturally tend in a direction that is opposing to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe that like Paul, we must not be naively oblivious to the opposition that surrounds us. Instead, we must constantly reaffirm and find rest in the assurance that we have in Jesus. He won the fight before He called us to enter it. And He waits at the other end of it cheering us on!
“After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns?” 1 Thessalonians 2:18.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Something to pray:
Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,” Acts 4:29
Pray today for strength and courage to go beyond obstacles of fear, convenience and an opposing world system to be an effective witness for Jesus to the people in your world.
Taiwo leads the Career and Business People’s Forum at Sycamore