Title image Illustration for John Milton’s “Paradise Lost“ by Gustave Doré, 1866.via Wikimedia Commons
For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, wanted to again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 1 Thessalonians 2:18 (NRSV)
It’s not exactly clear what it was that “hindered” Paul from going to Thessalonica; it is abundantly clear who did it – Satan, the adversary. He uses many tools.
In this case it might have been the opposition of the Jewish officials. They were opposed to Paul’s preaching of Christ.
It may have been Paul’s health, that “thorn in the flesh”.
Whatever the instrument, we can be certain who was instrumental in causing the hindrance. Ever since the Garden of Eden Satan’s greatest enemy and target has constantly been those who would spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Satan has always known God would send a deliverer from sin and death; he has always hated man and God…
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15 (NRSV)
The adversary is still doing his best to hinder; sometimes he does quite well! And that hindrance is still taking its toll on the church because most of us get distracted, and that keeps us from giving our most excellent best to serving where God has planted us.
The antidote for hindrance as you serve Jesus is to keep fighting and leave the scorekeeping to God.
You don’t really know what the score is anyway – God does! And as long as He is the One orchestrating the final outcome, you needn’t worry about what others are doing. Just keep serving!
The early church was a dismal failure in the eyes of the world. They preached Christ unashamedly, many of them dying for their faith, and the blood of the martyred saints was the seed of the spread of the Gospel. The score on earth may have been Christians “0” and Lions “many”; but it was the other way around in the Throne room above!
The Dark Ages saw a reversal. The church was infiltrated by darkness and evil; a corrupt clergy would not allow the average man to even see a Bible, much less hear the Gospel. The church was prosperous in gold and silver, but devoid of the Spirit.
Then, Martin Luther and the Reformation cast the light of holiness to dispel the dark ages; true Christians were once again guerillas, outlaws of an apostate church, hunted and poor, but preaching the true Gospel.
Today the church is ripe for another “underground takeover”.
With apostates creeping into every denomination, the adversary, Satan is at work obscuring the truth of the Gospel.
But we can never tell the score by reading the polls, or who is in the White House, or what programs this or that church uses to draw a large crowd.
The score is kept in a different set of books that belong to the Lamb.
You keep fighting the good fight – leave the score to the Lamb.