Scripture Reading: I Thessalonians 2:1-5
“But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.” (I Thesalonians 2:2)
When we are bold in our witness of the gospel, expect opposition. Paul experienced conflict and opposition in every city where he boldly proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ. You can read about the conflict he mentions in this passage in Acts 16:11-14 (conflict in Philippi) and in Acts 17:1-9 (conflict in Thessalonica).
Why is this the case? The answer is given to us in I Corinthians 1 — “For Jews demand signs and Gentiles seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (I Corinthians 1:22,23). The cross is offensive to many unbelievers — “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (I Corinthians 1:18).
The real problem to unbelievers is Jesus — “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (I Peter 2:9). Have you noticed how some people react when we speak of Jesus? They become offended. Some even become angry. They accept a generic reference to God, but use the name Jesus and they become irritated.
I offer a couple of reasons for the opposition to the gospel in our day. We live in a pluralistic society which insists on tolerance (except when we speak of Jesus, of course). The unique claims of Jesus Christ are offensive to many — that Jesus is the only way to heaven. They say, “Well what about other religions? Aren’t there many paths to heaven?” When we answer, “no,” they become angry and defensive. But the fact remains that Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). So, don’t be surprised when people get offended when you start talking about Jesus!
Lord Jesus, I know that You are a stumbling block to unbelievers. But You alone are the very Rock of our salvation and the only way to the Father. I praise and honor you this day as the only means of salvation.
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