Summary: We're the good guys. We want to save people, but the public don't want to know. Act like Paul's team: * Trust the gospel message and deliver it * Do it for God * Draw people to Christ through a Godly lifestyle
In Walt Disney's Pixar-animated movie, called The Incredibles, Mr Incredible is a super-hero in hiding. Mr Incredible saved a guy from an exploding building, but the guy sued Mr Incredible because the guy’s neck was slightly strained during the rescue. The guy was about to die! The guy exchanged certain death for a slightly strained neck, and yet he sued Mr Incredible. Unbelievable! Incredible! Mr Incredible is the good guy, but the public don't want to know. Mr Incredible wants to save people, but the public don't want to know.
That's the issue we're looking at today. That's the issue I want God to help us with as we look at Paul's letter to the Thessalonians.
We're the good guys. We want to save people, but the public don't want to know.
In Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 2 verses 1 to 16, there are three examples of his team's behaviour that I want to use as models for us - examples of behaviour that will help us to save people:
? Trust the gospel message and deliver it
? Do it for God
? Draw people to Christ through a Godly lifestyle
Trust the gospel message and deliver it
When I was a youngster at boarding school, another pupil (who was older, and bigger) asked me, ordered me to pop down to the local shop and buy him a Battenburg. I'd never heard of Battenberg and I didn't know what it meant. I thought it was a joke, a rude word - "na na na na na, you're a Battenberg" - and I expected to be embarrassed when I said "Battenberg" to the shopkeeper. Of course, I wasn't. It was a simple message, and all I had to do was deliver it - trust the message and deliver it.
Paul's team were the good guys because they trusted their message and delivered it.
They trusted the gospel message and delivered it.
Look what they went through to deliver that ‘good news’ message.
1 Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 2, "But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict."
Paul and Silas were "shamefully treated", "shamefully treated at Philippi".
They were dragged into the marketplace, stripped naked, beaten with rods, and shackled in prison.
I just had to suffer the potential embarrassment of saying a rude word, "Battenberg", and the potential pain of a clip round the ear.
Paul and Silas were stripped naked, beaten with rods, and shackled in prison.
What happened next to Paul and Silas? God was with them. God was with them in Philippi because an earthquake unfastened their chains and opened the door. What a chance for them to escape. But they didn't run away. Why would they? God was with them, so they stayed and ended up converting the jailer and his family.
Shameful treatment didn't matter to Paul and Silas. They cracked on to Thessalonica and delivered the gospel message. And it was a tough message for the Thessalonians.
When I spoke to the shop keeper, he just had to decide whether or not to give me a Battenburg. When Paul spoke to the Thessalonians, they had to decide whether or not to give themselves to Jesus.
They were getting a tough message. Paul was telling them that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. The Thessalonian Jews didn't want to hear this, so they formed a mob and started a riot. Paul and Silas had to sneak out under the cover of darkness.
Would you put up with that sort of treatment for a message that wasn't true. Of course not!
Paul's team were the good guys because they trusted the gospel message and delivered it.
Every year, thousands of people take part in the World Championship of public speaking. Winners of club competitions go through to area competitions. Winners of area competitions go through to division competitions. Winners of division competitions go through to district competitions. Then there are inter-district competitions, semi-finals, and finally the final. It's a big event. It's a huge event.
There are strict criteria for judging. But, 70% of the marks, 70%, go on content. 70% go on the message.
Many eloquent speakers are time and time again humbled by losing to outwardly 'rubbish' speakers. They don't understand why their extremely polished deliveries come second to speakers delivering their message through "fear and much trembling". But it's the winning speaker's message that woos the audience and the judges. Amazing delivery will not win the event. It's down to the message.
Paul admitted he wasn't a great speaker. When he wrote a letter later to the Corinthians, he said "... I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, ..."
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