October 7, 2013 by Chris French
Thessalonica, Berea and Philippi made up a part of the world that was not kind to Christians. God blessed Paul and his group with great success in reaching people in the area, in fact it’s one of the few places that God specifically told them to go to (Acts 16.6-10), but Macedonia was a region that held great diversity as far as people’s hearts were concerned. You find Lydia and a group of women praying beside a river. Paul runs into this group and teaches them, baptizing Lydia and some of her family pretty quickly. This river became their missionary ground. Religious people were already coming there for the purpose of worship so Paul took the opportunity to teach. One day while they were walking to the river they ran across a demon possessed woman who was telling fortunes and making money for some of the men in the city. They cast out the demon thus taking away any future profit from these “businessmen” so they took Paul and Silas into custody and they were thrown in prison where they were beaten, but were able to convert their jailer and his family. They were quickly released once the authorities were told they had illegally beaten a Roman citizen. When they left Philippi they made their way to Thessalonica where they stayed for 3 weeks talking to the Jews in the synagogue about Jesus and converting several of them (Acts 17.4). Some of the Jewish leaders started a riot that was intent of finding Paul and Silas, put lacking them found a new believer named Jason who had let them stay in his house. They finally let him go after he posted bail, but the situation was so tense that the brand new church persuaded Paul & Silas to leave in the middle of the night and go to Berea, where they met a whole group of people looking for God and converted them. But the guys from Thessalonica showed up at Berea and tried to start a riot there, but another brand new church insists that Paul leave for his own safety. They even escort him as far as Athens to make sure that he’s safe, that’s about 3 days by ship! They wanted to make sure that nothing would harm the one who had brought such good news to them.
But each one of these churches had to stay and thrive in its city. Paul’s gone, but there’s a church in Philippi now and one in Thessalonica and Berea! According to 1 Thessalonians 1 the church is this area had been hit pretty strongly by outside forces, so much so that word of how they were handling it had reached the churches in Greece and even beyond (1 Thess. 1.7-10). Despite all of the grandstanding and physical pain Paul and company went thru in Philippi they still talked about Jesus “boldly” in Thessalonica. They didn’t hold anything back. They were very clear about the Jewish way of knowing God being obsolete now despite the beating they took in Philippi just a day or two earlier for saying the exact same thing! They were vocal about the idols people in Thessalonica were worshiping were just wood and stone. They said with confidence that these things had no power and called people away from worshiping them. When the riot started in Thessalonica and they were forced to leave they did the exact same thing in Berea.
If you’ve talked to people about their faith before you may have started a mini riot (hurt feelings, lost a friend, anger, confrontation). Don’t let that stop you the next time you have that conversation. If we get rejected repeatedly we have the tendency to stop doing what is getting us rejected. It’s human nature. I don’t like that pain so I stop doing what I’m doing to cause myself the pain. Don’t let human nature get in the way of your higher calling. You weren’t called to be human when you came to Christ. You were called to be Him. Don’t let the mob scare you away from what God has called you to do. Rejection and fear is another tool of Satan. Don’t fall for it! Be bold!