Thessalonica was a thriving seaport in northern Greece. Paul traveled the 100 miles to Thessalonica after leaving Philippi where he had been beaten and thrown into prison. Paul’s practice was to enter a city and begin preaching in the synagogue or place of prayer. Some Jews responded to his message of Jesus risen from the dead. Many more were non-Jews, but most found this message to be crazy.
But for those who listened, a power gripped their lives that Paul tells them was the Holy Spirit. They would understand the message and suddenly a power would take hold of their hearts and minds. The message would make sense and their lives would begin to transform so that this message, this power was now the most important thing in their lives. And their changed lives would become a witness to others who would be drawn to this same message and experience this same power and find their lives being transformed.
This is what still happens today. When we don’t just read the scripture but feed on it – that is, allow the deeper message of the words to take hold. It is in the time that follows the reading that I suddenly discover there is something here for my life, something that grabs hold and changes me.
We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (vs 3)
Faith is something we have to work at – thinking through what we read and hear and bringing our mind and our will into line with it. Love also requires hard work. And hope needs patience, which is hard as well. Faith, Love and Hope – the Thessalonians had this. So can we.