Our scripture this morning is 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12.
Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering. In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you. And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. When he comes on that day, he will receive glory from his holy people—praise from all who believe. And this includes you, for you believed what we told you about him. So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Paul encourages the Thessalonians in what they suffer for Christ as His church. Jesus warned of the persecution we would face as His followers but that doesn’t change the call He has placed on our lives. We need to remain faithful no matter what hardship we must endure.
We know the goal – eternal life with God – and we know we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us endure. Paul writes “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:13-14). Each of us must make the choice as individuals but we strive together.
Paul tells us that God will give us “the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do” (v. 11). We may not be asked to face the physical violence that the early church suffered (and that some believers still suffer here on earth), but we must prepare ourselves just the same. Our faith must be strong and ready to meet the challenge of those who oppose Christ’s kingdom.
Gracious God, we are grateful to be called as followers of Jesus our Lord, that we may be made one with You. Strengthen us in faith and send us to share the blessings of Your love. Amen.