5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.
I believe this passage illustrates what it means to be a disciple and to “spread the Gospel.” In continuing with Paul’s explanation of being chosen, he explains to the Thessalonians as well as us that they did not simply teach the gospel by giving lessons, but that they walked The Walk. Not only were they told of the Gospel, but the Holy Spirit gifted them with the belief in the Gospel they were taught. All of this came together to create their faith and belief in the Gospel. Their teachings, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and the example laid out by Paul and his crew as they lived out what they were teaching.
In turn, Paul points out to them their own discipleship by doing the same thing within their communities. The point of having received the word in much tribulation with joy is meant to explain that they pursued their relationship with Christ despite the opposition of others who did not believe. THIS is the example Paul was talking about when he was firs in Thessalonica and proved to be among you for your sake. His faith (as well as those that were with him) kept him strong to not be dissuaded by the popular dissent of the Gospel.
As they have carried this faith with them wherever they go, it has caused the Gospel to spread throughout the region. My bible notes that Macedonia was the northern province of Greece and Achaia the south. His meaning here, whether literal or figurative, is that the Gospel is spreading throughout the entire country because of their example, in every place your faith toward God has gone forth.
We must key in on the very last part of this passage: so that we have no need to say anything. How often do we hear the Gospel but do not see it? I might have mentioned this before, but it is a phrase I continue to cling to and try to share it whenever the opportunity arises. I heard recently the way God wants us to spread the Gospel. “We are to live a life worth questioning and when questioned, provide the apt reply.” It’s not about going around telling people to repent or they will burn in hell. It’s not about telling people, “you need Jesus!” It’s not about telling people that the way they live or think is wrong. Rather, it’s about living in The Way so that others will ask, “What does he/she have that I don’t? How do I get a hold of it?”
I’ll never forget Ghandi’s quote, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are nothing like your Christ.” Remember, Jesus just did things. It wasn’t until the Pharisees and Sadducees questioned His actions that he gave the perfect responses. He didn’t just tell people they were wrong, he acted right and then explained Himself when questioned. He lived a life worth questioning and so should we.
What is questionable about your life?