July 4, 2010
Building Strong Friendships in Christ
Driven Out, But Still Serving Today
“who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men,”
1 Thessalonians 2:15
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Jesus was born of a Jewish mother, descended from Jewish forefathers according to the flesh, and fulfilled every element of the Jewish law. Jesus was the best Jew who ever lived. Yet the Jews crucified Him, because they hated Him without a cause. Jesus predicted that the world would hate Christians just as the world hated Him, and the Jews killed the prophets who came before Him (Matthew 5:11-12). Peter preached to the Jews in Jerusalem that they killed the Holy and Righteous One, putting to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead (Acts 3:14-16). Paul firmly understood that God loved the Jews and would fulfill the promises and covenants He made with the Jews, but God also loved the Gentiles. When Paul and the ministry team first visited Thessalonica, many Jews there fiercely attacked the team and drove them out of the city (Acts 17:1-15).
Paul reminds the Thessalonians about the suffering they endured from the hands of their own countrymen (Jews also), just as the churches of Judea suffered attacks from the Jews there. You may recall that Paul was the leader of attacks against Christians, until Jesus changed his life on the Damascus road and commissioned him to take the Gospel to the Gentiles, after the Jews rejected the Gospel (Acts 9:1-9). Sometimes, you must remember that the Gospel has powerful enemies, and even enemies from quarters where you would not necessarily expect attack.
Remembering a common enemy strengthens your faith. Paul reminded the Philippians that they should not be alarmed by opponents, because their very opposition to the Gospel is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God (Philippians 1:28). As we suffer for the sake of the Gospel, we know spiritual enemies will always oppose the work of God. We should not be taken by surprise, or alarmed. Instead, we should remember that their opposition serves as a sign of our salvation, and the fact that God has chosen us to share in the same suffering that Jesus faced.
So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.
● Strong bonds of friendship form when we expect and face spiritual opposition to the preaching of the Gospel and the ministry of His Word.
● Strong bonds of friendship grow when we stand together against spiritual attacks, and remember that other believers all over the world share in that suffering. We do not suffer alone.
● We harm our bonds of friendship when we do not remember that many of our spiritual friends around the world suffer for their faith.
Application for Today
Today, I will pray for my spiritual friends that suffer for the sake of Christ and His Gospel. I will remind my friends that we face strong spiritual opposition, and we should not be alarmed. Instead, we should expect it, and see it as a sign of our salvation. What will you remember today?