Paul struggled sometimes. Paul, the writer of lots of the New Testament. Paul, the greatest theologian of the church. Paul, the human writer of Romans, the words of which captured Martin Luther’s heart 500 years ago.
After being beaten in the town of Philippi, he walked 100 miles to a town called Thessalonica. He started talking about Jesus there, and had many people turn from their despair about life toward God. And then he was driven out of that town, too.
He ended up in Athens. But he wondered and worried about what happened after he left. Had he taught well enough so that the God followers in Thessalonica understood, so that they would have enough wisdom to keep following God? Even when they saw that it could lead to exile?
Paul gives the secret to how he taught. His whole time and teaching were built around loving God with all his heart and soul and mind and strength FIRST and then loving people.
We weren’t trying to flatter you, but we were teaching what would line up with God, what would please God. Even though it meant that we were risking our lives with people, we couldn’t do anything other than what Jesus did.
For Paul, the commitment wasn’t to being liked, it was to being honest with and about God. It meant daily living and teaching that God offers his love for us. But not to be mean. Instead, Paul had found such hope and meaning and purpose in following God that he shared it.
But that didn’t mean he didn’t worry.
Which means, of course, that when we do what we think is right and faithful, it shouldn’t surprise us that we wonder whether it was the right and faithful thing to do.
Reflecting on 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8.