Summary: Looking at Paul's role as a spiritual parent of the Thessalonians

The senior pastor of a church was doing the children’s sermon one day at the service. He had decided to talk to the kids about how to write a good sermon, in hopes of inspiring some to grow up and go into the ministry. So he asked the children, "What makes a good sermon?"

Of course all the little kids raised their hands high and proud. "Yes Johnny?" Johnny said, "Well, it has to have a good beginning." "That’s right, Johnny," replied the preacher. "We call that the introduction. What else, kids? Yes, Sue?" the preacher said. "Well, it has to have a great ending," said Sue. "You are so right the preacher responded, we call that the conclusion, and it is one of the most important parts. Anyone else?"

Little Billy had his hand up, so the preacher called on him. "Yes Billy?" "Well, I know you don’t do it this way, but the introduction and the conclusion should be as close together as possible!"

Well as a fairly new dad I have realized that Children grow not only in size, but in motor skills, mentally and humour and in so many other ways! If we all gained as much knowledge, as adult, as children do in their first 5 year we would be overwhelmed I think.

Parents have a role to guide them in this learning. I was trying to teach Josh how to sit these last couple weeks, but he is not sure sitting is for him. He does fine for a bit then flings himself flat on his back. I have to catch him…

Before a child can walk, he must learn to stand. Usually the father and mother teach the child to stand by holding on to a foot rest or a couch and then try to get them to take one step then another, then another. Eventually they may get the child to walk back and forth between two adults. And then there is the solo run and then… they never stop running…

Children are born with instinct, but the parent’s guidance is always needed so that they learn faster and safer. Well Paul was the “spiritual parent” to the believers in Thessalonica, but he had been forced to leave Thessalonica. How, then, could he help these young Christians learn to stand in the trials of life? Well let’s read 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13 to get a glimpse of this: (Let me read from the Message)

1-2 So when we couldn’t stand being separated from you any longer and could find no way to visit you ourselves, we stayed in Athens and sent Timothy to get you up and about, cheering you on so you wouldn’t be discouraged by these hard times. He’s a brother and companion in the faith, God’s man in spreading the Message, preaching Christ.

3-5 Not that the troubles should come as any surprise to you. You’ve always known that we’re in for this kind of thing. It’s part of our calling. When we were with you, we made it quite clear that there was trouble ahead. And now that it’s happened, you know what it’s like. That’s why I couldn’t quit worrying; I had to know for myself how you were doing in the faith. I didn’t want the Tempter getting to you and tearing down everything we had built up together.

6-8 But now that Timothy is back, bringing this terrific report on your faith and love, we feel a lot better. It’s especially gratifying to know that you continue to think well of us, and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you! In the middle of our trouble and hard times here, just knowing how you’re doing keeps us going. Knowing that your faith is alive keeps us alive.

9-10 What would be an adequate thanksgiving to offer God for all the joy we experience before him because of you? We do what we can, praying away, night and day, asking for the bonus of seeing your faces again and doing what we can to help when your faith falters.

11-13 May God our Father himself and our Master Jesus clear the road to you! And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you. May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all his followers.

Do you see Paul coming forth as a spiritual parent in the lives of the Thessalonians? Kind of protective! It may be like when you have lead someone to faith in Christ. You want them to get the right teaching…or if you have been a parent you want what is best for the little ones…right? Or if your Children went off to college you may have been like Paul waiting for a report on how your kids were doing… What are they into? Are they behaving?

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