Scripture Reading: I Thessalonians 2:14-16
“For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews.” (I Thessalonians 2:14)
The churches in Judea were the first authentic churches and the mother churches of all those planted by Paul. They set the standard by which all other churches might measure themselves in the first century. We know the great opposition believers faced in Judea. Many believers had to disperse because of the severe nature of the persecution they faced.
Paul reminded the Thessalonians that just as the believers in Judea suffered, so the Thessalonians were likewise being persecuted and opposed by their own countrymen. This opposition was primarily stirred up by the unbelieving Jews who wanted to stamp out the Christian movement.
Paul pointed out that it was the unbelieving Jews, led by the scribes and pharisees, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets (v. 15). Those religious leaders drove Paul and his fellow workers out as well (v. 15). They sought to hinder them from speaking to the Gentiles about salvation through Jesus Christ. This is how Paul described them — “(they) displease God and oppose all mankind” (v. 15).
Let’s not forget that many of our brothers and sisters today are facing similar opposition and persecution. Many suffer greatly because of their witness to Jesus. While this is true, the church continues to grow among nations where Christians are being persecuted. We should not be surprised at this. Remember what Jesus said about His church — “I will build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
Let’s thank God for the tremendous freedom we have to worship God in our country. We cannot relate to the suffering that some of our brothers and sisters are experiencing. However, we should be prepared for opposition. It may well come upon us as we are faithful in our calling to be witnesses of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus, thank You that You are building Your church. I pray for my brothers and sisters in places where there is much opposition to the gospel. I pray for those who are being persecuted and harassed because of their faith in You. I give You thanks for the freedom we have in this country to worship You.
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