Your Faithful Work Matters to God
As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:3
Introduction by Mark Roberts: At certain times throughout the year, I invite others to write a few Daily Reflections. This gives me a bit of a breather and it allows you to hear God's truth from a variety of voices. This week's reflections will be written by Dan Roloff. Dan is a good friend and trusted colleague at Foundations for Laity Renewal, where he is our editorial director. Dan has a deep Christian faith and a delightful sense of humor. I'm pleased to have him write the reflections for this week, focusing on Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians. I'll be back with you on Saturday.
When I was younger I spent time each summer in the Boston area. My brother, twenty years my senior, was stationed at the Naval Air Station in South Weymouth, MA. I enjoyed the history of that area from Plymouth to Concord the cradle of the original American story. At Boston Harbor, I would climb aboard the USS Constitution, Old Ironsides, the wooden-hulled frigate whose legend extends from the War of 1812.
Lines of people waited to visit this ship. The whole harbor was a busy sight, a frenzy of commerce.
First Century Thessalonica was a busy port city, too. Located in the Northwest corner of the Aegean Sea, Thessalonica served as the capital of Macedonia and had a vibrant seaport with access to overland trade routes vital to the Roman Empire. Paul wrote a letter to the church in Thessalonica around 50 A.D. That letter is considered the earliest writing in the New Testament.
Here we have Paul's first written greeting to a church, “As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ." To a people facing hardship, as were the vast majority of people in the Greco-Roman world, the story of Jesus offers hope. God understands their pain and suffering because he was a living person who experienced the pain of everyday living. God still cares about each of us, offering hope through loving relationship.
When you know God cares, you pray differently. You don’t just seek appeasement. You take your concerns to him. This would have been revolutionary to the Thessalonians. Pagan prayer focused on keeping the gods happy. But Paul's greeting says, "your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope" matter to God. That message was true then, is now, and ever shall be true.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Where do you see yourself in the letter to the Thessalonians? Do you identify with Paul as letter writer, teacher, and encourager? Or do you identify with the Thessalonians in their search for God?
PRAYER: Father, I join Jesus in his prayer, “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one just as you and Jesus are one—as you are in the Son, and the Son is in you. And may your disciples be in you and the Son so that the world will believe in your Son" (John 17:20–21 NLT).
My fervent hope is what Jesus expressed. I desire to be in you as you are in me, guide my path.
Images sourced via Creative Commons.