Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Greece Trip (14): Thessaloniki: What Would Have Gone Through Paul's Mind (1)? - Part 4

Thessalonica is the second major city Paul visited in his Second Missionary Journey after receiving the Macedonian call (Acts 16:6-10). As in Philippi, Paul faced tremendous opposition to his gospel in Thessalonica.

In Philippi, it was the owners of the slave girl that Paul set free, together with the crowd, that opposed Paul for "advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practise" (Acts 16:21), and this subsequently led to the his imprisonment.

In Thessalonica, a group of Jews rounded up some bad characters from the city, formed a mob and started a riot in the city, accusing Paul for causing trouble and "defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus" (Acts 16:8).

In both cities, Paul had no choice but to leave, perhaps for the sake of the safety of the newly established community of Christ-followers. In fact, Paul had to leave Thessalonica at night.

I often wonder what would have gone through Paul's mind when he left Thessalonica. Both his mission to Philippi and Thessalonica had to be ended prematurely. In both cities, he faced intense persecution and opposition. In fact, in Philippi, he was humiliated, unjustly and unfairly tried as a Roman citizen - and in his own words, he had "suffered and been treated outrageously" (1 Thess 2:2). According to today's understanding of models of church growth, Paul's church planting activities in these two cities are far from successful.

At this point when Paul made his way to Berea, would he have doubted the vision of the Macedonian man he saw in Troas (Acts 16:6-10)? What would be the conversation like between him and Silas on the journey? Would they feel a sense of discouragement? Would they have entertained the thoughts of giving up?

What would you and I do when we are faced with similar situations like those of Paul's? Would we have doubted our calling? What would we do if were Paul? Would we still persevere on in our mission? Or would we give up?


yourshoeah said...

For someone like Paul, something within him, something deep and beyond words, drove him and compelled him to preach. He was like Churchill that "bit and never let go." That's one of the things I really admire about Paul. (1 Cor 9:16)

Kar Yong said...

Hi Yeshua,
Let's hope what you said can be said of us too!