1 Thessalonians 1-10 CEB
From Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy.
To the Thessalonians’ church that is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace to all of you.
We always thank God for all of you when we mention you constantly in our prayers. This is because we remember your work that comes from faith, your effort that comes from love, and your perseverance that comes from hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father. Brothers and sisters, you are loved by God, and we know that he has chosen you. We know this because our good news didn’t come to you just in speech but also with power and the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.
You know as well as we do what kind of people we were when we were with you, which was for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord when you accepted the message that came from the Holy Spirit with joy in spite of great suffering. As a result you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The message about the Lord rang out from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia but in every place. The news about your faithfulness to God has spread so that we don’t even need to mention it. People tell us about what sort of welcome we had from you and how you turned to God from idols. As a result, you are serving[b] the living and true God, and you are waiting for his Son from heaven. His Son is Jesus, who is the one he raised from the dead and who is the one who will rescue us from the coming wrath.
Paul’s first letter to Thessalonians is one of the earliest writings of New Testament. Letters are always written with a certain known context and issues. Think of a weekly church update like our own Friday Greetings. Some things aren’t completely spelled out because there are some things that are implied. If we see in the bulletin that there is a ladies Bible study this Tuesday at 11:00…it is implied that it is here in this building and that it’s going to be in the am.
Paul’s very first letter is very personal and reflects not only Paul’s familiarity with and deep affection for this community of faith, but also his genuine love and care for each of its members. He founded this church, and he knows these people. He celebrates in this letter with them.
The people who heard Paul proclaim the message were changed by the experience. They didn’t just hear his words. They saw and felt the power of the Spirit in those words. They saw and felt the power of the Spirit through Paul. And once they became followers, apparently that same power of the Spirit shone through each one of them as well.
Isn’t it important that as disciples, we show God’s Spirit working through us. This doesn’t mean we never have a hard day or admit that we aren’t feeling particularly joyful sometimes. It just means that we don’t ever give up our hope that joy will return, because the Spirit of Christ is always with us, in us, shining through us and infecting others with the love and grace of the Lord.
Methodists early on were known for their “enthusiasm.” I think that Wesleyan enthusiasm, that habit of showing our Spirit through our passion, our hope, our excitement—and wearing that enthusiasm like a holy garment for all to see—is in our DNA. It is who we are as Christians who seek to live faithfully through our United Methodist connection.
Pastor Michael Williams