Wednesday, August 20, 2008

In Search Of Truth


1 Thessalonians Chapter 2

We gain some insight here regarding Paul's relationship to those he spoke to and spent time with. Both pastors and the average Christian can use this chapter as a guide as we try to share truth in the context of relationships. (A great context for sharing truth in our "anti-podium" culture!)

We should also point out that "sharing truth" is not limited to non-Christians. Paul is describing here his relationship with a group of believers! Naturally, they were unbelievers at some point, but Paul did not abandon them and move on once they chose to believe the truth. So this chapter applies to our relationships with everyone we talk about the Bible with.

First, we should expect opposition. (V2) It could be from specific people, circumstances, or from social pressure. Absolute truth is not a popular concept, and subtly opposing influences are imbedded (both intentionally and unintentionally) in books, movies, video games, TV shows and all other forms of entertainment or pop-culture. We live and breath relativism and should expect that there will be some bias against absolutes.

Despite the difficulty of sharing truth in this setting, we should critically and skeptically examine ourselves and the ideas we share to weed out any error, bias or bending of truth.(V3) Those who listen will be doing the same and the last thing we want to do is give them a reason to be suspicious.

Although we should aim to present truth in a way that can be understood and related to, we also need to avoid ever altering or "watering down" what the Bible says so that someone will be accepting of it. We might avoid an uncomfortable situation, but the truth will be distorted. Above all else, we should aim to please God in the way we communicate his words. (V4)

The Bible should never be used to manipulate people, to satisfy our greed, or to gain social significance. Instead, the Bible should lead us to be selfless, caring genuinely and deeply for the people we're sharing truth with. (V7-10)

There also comes a time in our relationships where we should motivate each other to go deeper spiritually. (V11-12) The Bible does not depict a multitude of isolated spiritual journeys. "Live and let live" does not apply to the life of a Biblical Christian. That said, our aim should never be to point out sin so that we can feel better about ourselves. (And that one can be a tricky motive to spot in ourselves!) As the NASB translates verse 11, "we were exhorting, encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children." Can you hear the sense of love and pleading in that sentence? Everyone makes their own choices. Our role is to inspire each other with actions and words, so that we can all move forward into what God has for us.

Paul expresses his thankfulness for how the Thessalonians accepted the truth, and for how they are now withstanding mistreatment from the people around them. Paul makes a comparison to the Old Testament prophets and also Jesus, who were opposed and even killed by their own people. Paul has seen the same pattern in the way he and his ministry partners have been treated and points out that this behavior angers God.(V16)

Paul clearly has compassion for the Thessalonians. Paul has made people the most sought after goal in his life. Paul implies that the people he invests time in will be like a crown on his head when Christ returns. The ultimate prize we can take from this life is the result of investing in the lives of others. (V19-20)

Coffee House Question

What is it about the idea of "Absolute Truth" (in a spiritual/religious context) that people may find offensive?

Next Week- Searching for truth in the 6th and final chapter of "Spirit Blade"!

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