From our very first years of school, we desire to be liked. Yet popularity emphasizes all the wrong attributes. It’s hard to stand for something that truly matters and be popular. When Paul addressed the church at Thessalonica, he emphasized their notoriety among Christians. But they were known among Christians for all the right reasons.
Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1–10. Reflect on 1 Thessalonians 1:8–10:
“For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (ESV).
The Thessalonians were known throughout the Roman Empire because of what they have done for Jesus. They were living examples of what it means to follow him.
The Thessalonian believers’ notoriety among Christians is in direct juxtaposition to cultural norms. Fame is celebrated in cultures around the world. Yet, from an eternal perspective, most famous people have done nothing extraordinary. Meanwhile, there are Christians today, like the Thessalonian believers, who are making extraordinary sacrifices for Jesus. They are the people we should be celebrating.
What demarcated the Thessalonian believers was turning from idolatry and toward Jesus. They believed in the risen Jesus, who had come and would come again. They believed in the salvation he offers and believed it was worth being persecuted for (1 Thessalonians 1:6).
Instead of seeking the approval of others, we should seek to align ourselves with Jesus and his message. If our reputation spreads because of that, it will be because we are living examples for Jesus. Let us look in the face of difficulties and ask God how can he use our difficulties to make us more like him, so that we may also be examples for others.
What are some ways you’re seeking approval from others over Jesus? How can you change these behaviors and focus on Christ and his work instead?
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