During the month of June Lake Baldwin Church will feature a one-month sermon series on 2 Thessalonians. The title for the series is Resilience: The Vanishing Virtue. But how much do we know about this brief New Testament letter?
The apostle Paul and his team likely penned this "epistle" (letter) around 50 A.D. Like most of Paul's letters, there were issues in the church that prompted his writing. This is often referred to as the "occasion" of the letter.
How do we know the "occasion" of an epistle, or the reason for writing? Reading such a letter, for us, is like listening to one side of a phone conversation. We don't know for sure what the other person is saying, but we can learn a lot from what we're hearing. It's the same way when we read Paul's letters.
Based on reading 2 Thessalonians, we can identify 3 issues in the church at Thessalonica which may sound familiar to modern readers.
1. The Christians were facing trials and persecution.
This becomes clear in the first chapter. Paul realizes that these trials could make them want to give up or "dial back" their faithfulness to Christ. So he reassures them in the midst of trials, giving them the encouragement to endure, or to become resilient.
What trials are we facing that might require resilience? We might not be facing persecution, but where are we tempted to give up?
2. There was confusion about the return of Jesus Christ.
On this point, Paul was concerned that they might be deceived about the day of the Lord. Paul was "guarding the flock" from false teaching. This is a big issue today, because truth gets softened and crumbled by false teaching and the waves of cultural change lapping up against the church. There is a need for all of us to be "resilient" when it comes to the truth of Scripture.
3. Some had grown weary in doing good.
This can easily happen, especially if the going is tough, or if there is confusion about the truth. Apparently, there were people at Thessalonica who had grown idle in their faith.
Have you ever known somebody who had an early excitement about their faith, only to get sidetracked along the way by competing affections?
Perhaps we have all felt what it is like to grow weary in the Christian life. The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. Paul wanted to help the weary be resilient, and we all need that encouragement from time to time.
Where might you need to experience new strength from God? In what area of life do you need resilience?
Let's make our study of 2 Thessalonians a refreshment station in the marathon of the Christian life.
Mike Tilley is the senior pastor of Lake Baldwin Church, and has lived in Orlando since 1994. He and his wife, Molly, worked with a core group from the Baldwin Park community to plant Lake Baldwin Church in 2006. Mike loves teaching the Bible in a way that relates to real life. In his spare time, Mike enjoys good movies, long dinner with friends, snow skiing, hanging out with his kids and two granddaughters, and travel.