Nobody likes persecution. Nobody likes being disliked. But as Christians, that’s a reality that we have to prepare ourselves for. There are some people that simply will not like us because of our faith in Christ.
This is a truth that all Christians need to be prepared to face, and Paul made sure the Thessalonians were ready when he was with them. He said,
We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. (3:2-4)
Destined for trials. Destined for persecution. These are not words that Christians want to hear, but Paul warned the Thessalonians about these things. And because of that, they were prepared. When persecution came from their own people, they didn’t falter. Rather they stood firm. (3:6-8)
And so should we.
But remember that God does not call us to stand in our own strength. We need to rest in his strength.
Part of that comes from continuing to grow in our faith through the Word of God. Paul prayed that he could come to the Thessalonians once again so that he could, “supply what is lacking in your faith.” (10)
None of us are perfect in our knowledge of Christ. All of us need to continue to grow in our faith. So we need to continue to plug ourselves into his church in order to get the spiritual nutrition and strength we need to stand in times of trials. That comes through the preaching of the Word. But it also comes through the relationships we have with each other as God pours out his love in our hearts, and we learn to love each other and all those God puts into our lives. (12)
But most importantly, it comes as God himself strengthens our hearts through his Spirit who dwells in us. And so Paul prays,
May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. (13)
As we live our lives for Christ, Satan will oppose us. That’s a given. We see it in Paul’s life , we see it in the Thessalonians’ lives, we see it throughout church history.
Are you ready to face his opposition?