Summary: When something is good and something is real, word gets around.
“There’s Something Happening Here”
When someone comes home from watching a movie and you ask them, “Well, did you enjoy it?”…
…more than likely, you know the answer before you ask the question.
The movie was “okay” but “not that great.”
If the person had really enjoyed it, you wouldn’t have had to ask.
The person would have come bounding in through the front door, eager to tell you about it.
There are some experiences in this life that are so amazing and remarkable that you just have to talk to someone about them!
Sometimes you hear a song on the radio, read a book, watch a movie, or see something that is so striking that you can’t help yourself.
As soon as you meet someone you can tell, you say, “I gotta tell you about the movie…” or whatever it is.
That’s when it’s clear that it really has made an impression on you.
And what happened when Paul and his fellow evangelists came to Thessalonica made that kind of impression, not only on the people who heard and believed the Gospel, but also on people all over the place!
The grape vines were buzzing all around Greece and the neighboring countries.
Nobody had to ask, “Have you heard about those strange Jews who are going around talking about someone called Jesus?” because everybody who had heard about them were telling someone else without being asked.
That’s the meaning of what Paul says in verse 8: “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere.”
And what people were talking about wasn’t just the new church, but the way it had come into being.
People were talking about the amazing and instantaneous effect the Gospel had had.
And at the heart of it was the call to worship the One True God rather than idols.
And this was simply unheard of in Paul’s world.
It would be like asking people today to give up using their cars, computers, t-vs and cell phones.
The gods of Greek and Roman paganism were everywhere.
For example, if you were going to plant a tree, you would pray to the relevant god.
If you were going on a business trip, a quick visit to the right shrine was in order.
If you or your son or daughter were getting married, a serious and expensive worship of a deity was expected of you.
At every turn in the road the gods were there: unpredictable, possibly mean and dangerous, sometimes at war among themselves…
…there was really no way of really appeasing them, making sure you had them on your side.
And in particular, there was one new and recent arrival among the gods of Greece and Rome.
When Augustus defeated his rivals and became emperor of Rome and all its lands, he declared that his adopted father—Julius Caesar—had become a god.
Cities would stumble over themselves to build temples for their new gods.
Can you imagine?
And right smack dab into the middle of this wacky world came three unknown Jews, Paul, Silas and Timothy, telling these pagans that there was only One True God and that this God had a Son, and that Son had been raised from the dead!!!
Nobody had ever said anything like that before!!!
And the people in Thessalonica, knowing right from the start, the huge risk they would be taking—turned away from their idols to this Living God, and in doing so…
…discovered, at the same moment, both suffering and great joy!!!
And that is what conversion is all about.
The word “turned” in verse 9 is as close as Paul gets to a technical term for conversion itself.
It’s what happens when someone stops going in one direction, turns around and begins going in the opposite direction.
Has this happened to you?
A story is told about a group of old friends hanging out and having a conversation.
One of the men had recently become a Christian.
His old buddies were giving him a bit of a hard time.
“You don’t really believe all those miracle stories in the Bible, do you,” one guy chided.
In response, his friend replied, “I don’t know about the miracle stories in the Bible, but I do know about a miracle story in my own life.
Since giving my life to the Lord, Jesus has changed beer into furniture!”
It is a sight to see when someone gives their life to Christ!
The transformation which takes place, is indeed, nothing short of a miracle!!!
And the transformation continues as we become involved in a community of faith, volunteer our time, learn the joy of giving to God and becoming close friends—like family, really, with our brothers and sisters in the faith.