Good morning and welcome to Tuesday’s podcast. Today’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 2 verse 9-12. The whole passage will be read in full after this reflection. For now, I am going to focus on verses 9 and 10.
Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.
I didn’t grow up in a Christian family. In fact my grandmother had grown up in a strict, religious environment. Her father, my great grandfather, had been a lay preacher in south Wales. I know very little about what growing up in his family had been like, but what I do know is that when my grandmother left home, she left the church and never looked back.
I attended a Church of England primary school, it was the only school in the village. I played various characters in the nativity and we occasionally were ‘treated’ to visits from the local vicar. But church, God, the baby in the manger… it was, at best, irrelevant to my life and at worst old fashioned and boring…
It wasn’t until I came to university and I met Chris, a lovely, funny guy on my corridor at university that I began to sit up and take notice.
Chris was a Christian. He was open about it. It wasn’t a ceremonial addition to his life, he wasn’t a guy who had nothing better to do on a Sunday other than to seek out and endure boring traditional nonsense. There was something about him, a life, a spark, a genuineness that intrigued me. He wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, in fact he had his problems just like me and was open and honest with his struggles.
We became friends… I met his friends… we laughed – a lot… he saw me go through various struggles and heartbreaks… I saw him go through some of his own and he talked to me about God. He invited me to Christian stuff that was going on at Uni and in my halls of residence.
And when I met a girl who was prepared to put God first, above our growing relationship, it was Chris that I wrote to – he was studying for a semester overseas at the time. He wrote back… 8 sides of handwritten A4.
Shortly afterwards I quit fighting and surrendered my life to God.
I owe Jesus everything… I owe Chris nothing, but I will be forever grateful that he took the time to make me a friend and introduce me to Jesus.
In today’s passage, Paul reminds the believers in Thessalonica of his conduct and his character while he lived and worked amongst them. While he shared the gospel with them and many of them had come to faith.
I wonder, who introduced you to Jesus? Who did God send to you to tear down your prejudice, to help you over the obstacles that you had to believing? Who gave their time to become your friend, to spend hours talking to you about God, who patiently answered your questions, who demonstrated the abundant life to you, who gave you a glimpse of what life could be like?
Looking back, my life was a mess. I had pressed the self destruct button. I could be fun to be around, but I know there were times, many times, I was miserable. It would have been easier for Chris to move on and find an easier guy to be friends with. But he didn’t. He stuck it out and here I am now.
Today let us give thanks for those kids workers, youth team members, parents, friends, colleagues, vicars, ministers, authors and preachers who have stuck by us. Who have persevered with us, shown us, taught us, wrestled with our questions with us, who have been there in our times of need and who have led us through the highs and the lows.
Let’s give thanks for those people without whom we would never have stepped across the threshold of the kingdom of heaven and met Jesus.
We may want to pick up the phone today, call that individual, catch up, say thank you and reminisce about old times. We might craft an email, set up a zoom call or even write a letter.
Me? Well that’s easy. I will message Chris with a link to today’s podcast. Chris, thanks again for all you did for me when I was at university and when we are out of lockdown and you are back in Sheffield for work, I promise that I will get the time of our lunch appointment right in my diary… and it’s my turn to pay.
Father, I want to thank you that since the time Jesus lived, died and ascended to heaven, faithful men and women in every generation have lived out and taught others the gospel. Thank you for those people in our lives who took time to introduce us to you. Help us to encourage one another today, to play our part in sharing the good news with those around us. Amen.
BIBLE READING: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.