Modern technology has brought incredible benefits, but it has also made us more isolated and insulated. We tend to retreat behind our devices, to be entertained or to watch people from afar via social media. We need community, in person, more than ever. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul the apostle shows us the strength that can be found in Christian community.
Read 1 Thessalonians 2:17–3:13. Reflect on 1 Thessalonians 3:1–3a:
“Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we determined to be left behind in Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and fellow worker for God in the gospel of Christ, in order to strengthen and to encourage you about your faith, so that no one would be shaken by these afflictions” (LEB).
Paul recognized that the church in Thessalonica, which was experiencing intense persecution (Acts 17:4–10; compare 1 Thessalonians 1:6–8), needed strong leadership. When Paul and his colleagues, Timothy and Silas (also called Silvanus), were in Thessalonica, they themselves experienced great opposition—causing them to flee (Acts 17:5–10).
Paul could have returned to Thessalonica himself, but sends Timothy in his stead. This could be because Paul was a primary and recognizable target of those who opposed Christianity at Thessalonica. More specifically, Paul describes his reason for not returning to the powers of evil at work against him (1 Thessalonians 2:17–19).
Timothy, Paul’s apprentice, turns out to be a great asset to the new Christians at Thessalonica: he strengthens them and encourages them in their faith. It is Timothy who helps them stand firm in their faith, despite the great difficulties.
We need strong, godly examples. While Timothy was young (see 1 Timothy 4:12), he was an example of what it meant to follow Jesus.
We need Christian community to keep us on track with Christ—so we do not falter in sin or walk away from the faith. There is strength in authentic and transparent Christian community. This is one of the great purposes of the church, God’s community of believers.
Who is a strong godly leader that you can follow—someone you personally know? How can you engage more in Christian community, and share more with fellow Christians about your struggles?
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