1 Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. 2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, 4 knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;
Before we start looking into Paul’s words in this letter, it’s worth understanding the purpose behind it. Thessalonica was the second city in Europe that Paul taught the Gospel. It was during this trip that the Jews noticed more people were beginning to follow these teachings and the synagogues were becoming more and more empty. They complained that the man hosting Paul was harboring traitors of Casear and Paul was forced to leave the city. Concerned that this new church did not have any experience leadership, he sent his protégé, Timothy, back to Thessalonica to encourage the church and bring back a report to Paul. This letter is in response to Timothy’s report. It opens with thankfulness for their steadfast new faith and answers some questions and concerns in regards to their new way of living in contrast to the way they used to live.
I do not want to skip the first 3 verses, as I believe it is a crucial component to greeting fellow brothers and sister, whether in person or by letter. It is, however, similar to Paul’s other letters, at least the ones I have read. Note how he mentions praying for them, something we could all do more of. Praying for our fellow believers is a crucial component of the Christian faith. It provides real support as we petition God for His protection and any other concerns.
Verse 3 not only accentuates the purpose behind praying for them, but what they are praying for. The young church is remaining steadfast in their faith and actually working towards bettering themselves bywork of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope. The hope they possess is in the return of Christ when His perfection blankets us and creates the new heaven and earth. Without hope, there is no life. Sometimes it takes work to maintain the hope and keep it in mind. Given the state of affairs relevant to Paul’s departure, we can see it wasn’t necessarily easy to be that church.
Verse 4 jumped out at me. His choice of you reminds me that we are His chosen people. Our pastor reiterated this on Sunday as well. We must remember we are the chosen people of God. This isn’t about being “holier than thou” or thinking we are better than others, a too common occurrence these days. Rather, it’s about understanding that hope we have in Christ Jesus, that we are chosen to be not of this world, but of the Kingdom and when the day comes of His return, we get to live in full harmony with Him. O Glorious Day!
Now, what does that mean about people who aren’t believers? Why are they not chosen? Because they have not decided to be. We all have a choice to seek out God and His purpose for our lives. He chooses us according to His plan and part of our choice to seek Him out is accepting His plan as that which is best for all. There might be things we don’t agree with but that is because we do not understand. We do not understand because we don’t try to, we’d rather get angry and turn our backs on Him instead of asking for answers.
Are you one of the chosen? If not, wouldn’t you want to be?