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Tuesday, April 19, 2016
So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord. As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia. And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it, for they keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the living and true God. And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.
1 Thessalonians 1:6-10 (NLT)
The “White Tower” of Thessalonica was built in the 15th century as a military fortress. Its’ imposing size and surrounding walls gave many an invading army cause to think twice before messing with the city.
But the strength of those physical walls is like a sand castle at Myrtle Beach compared to the towering strength of the reputation of the church at Thessalonica in the first century. Their reputation wasn’t because of tall buildings and walls; rather their muscle was a total commitment to faithfully serving God. In particular, Paul mentions their hospitality and willingness to turn away from idols, and turn to serving the true God. Their whole focus was on looking forward to Christ’s kingdom and His coming.
As I stop and ponder the wealth of experiences God has led us through in ministry, there are quite a few believers who stand out in my mind as Thessalonian towers.
Now, don’t wait for any famous names to drop here…most of the people I’m thinking about were never the subject of a 10 minute Sunday segment on 60 Minutes, or even known further than their local communities. But their calm, simple commitment to Christ, and serving him through a local church with hospitality and faithful honor, make them my heroes in the faith. Some are still serving; many have gone to the church triumphant by now.
By the way…did you notice Paul didn’t list a roll call of the most notable high profile super-Christians? Paul was recounting the reputation of a church full of people who were simply and faithfully holding to the Gospel. It is like the white tower – many bricks holding together a faithful witness of strength and permanence. The bricks of the Thessalonian church tower of faithful service were those hospitable, joyfully-expectant, and faithful Christians.
I’d like to leave you with a little encouragement today. If you’re a brick helping to form a mighty tower of a local church, whether that church has 5 or 5,000 people, continue with integrity and joy, looking always for the coming of your Lord. Paul may not have called all the names of the faithful…but, one day Jesus will!