There are so many nuggets of truth and wisdom in this tiny passage. Things we can learn from and still apply to life today.
Let's look at the Thessalonians, themselves, to start. They were a very religious people all along. In this case, be aware that religious does not mean they followed Christ. They had many gods. Zeus was the most powerful. Aphrodite, who was the goddess to the prostitutes, was the top female god. In fact, many artifacts dedicated to her have been found in the area. The Thessalonians were serious about religion, but they didn't know the one true God...until Paul and company came along.
The other notable thing about the Thessalonians was that they lived pretty much central to everything. Their city was a busy port and it was also situated along the major inland trade routes. Basically, things came into Thessalonica and spread far and wide from there. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that once the Thessalonians embraced the gospel of Christ it spread out into the surrounding countries and beyond.
Now you know who the Thessalonians were so, let's get back to the things in this passage that leapt out at me.
First of all, did you notice that it says they turned to God from idols? They made a conscious choice to turn to God, but they also made a choice to turn away from their idols. You and I have to do that to. We choose to accept Christ's gift and follow the Lord, but we must also choose to walk away from our past sinful lives. We cannot honestly follow Christ if we still cling to sinful things. It's worth noting that this is a daily choice we believers have to make. We still struggle with sin and temptation and each time we are faced with it, we have to choose.
The second thing that spoke to me was Paul's of the Thessalonians' faith as having "sounded forth" from them. The word used for "sounded forth" in the original Greek has it's root in another word that can be translated to mean echo or reverberate. We all know that an echo is when a sound is sent out and bounces back off of something and keeps bouncing. That is reverberation...when a sound fills up a space. So, Paul was saying that the Thessalonians' faith went out and kept echoing among the peoples and countries it came in contact with until they were full!
How did they do it and why was it so easy when it often seems so very hard for us to share our faith? I'm sure the Thessalonians talked about their new faith, but from Paul's words, I think what did it was their daily lives. The people around them saw the absolute change in them and how they were now serving only one god, the true, living God. Those in the other countries were so convinced by what they saw in the Thessalonians that there was nothing Paul could say to add to it!
Wow! I want to be like the Thessalonians. I want to not only follow God but turn away from sin. I want to have a faith that reverberates through my circle of influence (and beyond!) to completely fill the space, and I want to live a life that is so grounded in God that it points others to Him just by being lived.
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