It is one thing for people to hear the song you sing. It is quite another when they begin to sing it too. I suppose that, in our day, one of the marks of a song making a mark is that covers of the song will start popping up on Youtube.
This seems to be the way the faith of the Thessalonian believers was making a mark on their part of the world. In the first chapter, Paul points out that their faith was seen in their desire and practice of imitating him and imitating Christ in such a way that they had become quite an example to others (1 Thess 1.6-7 – discussed HERE).
But he goes on to explain how he has come to know this. He explains in verse 8:
“For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.”
These believers had not merely shared the hope of the gospel in proclaiming it all over that part of the world. They shared it indeed, but they lived it in such a way that their confidence in God, their faith, had “gone forth everywhere.” The way they lived was spreading this hopeful joy in the person of Jesus wherever they went.
Paul explains how he has heard this as he went on about his travels:
“For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess 1.9-10).
The people he refers to, “they themselves,” are the one that have been infected with this eager faith. Paul and his team have been hearing from others about how the Thessalonians had responded to their gospel, speaking of “the kind of reception we had among you.” They were eager. They were passionate. They were faithful.
But he gives more description of the substance of their faith, that they had eagerly turned their hearts to the true and living God. In a world of relativism, they eagerly embraced the one absolute.
But notice that he explains that they turned “to God from idols.” The idolatry in the city of Thessalonica was staggering. As a crucial city both as a port and along land trade routes, the culture of the city was rife with idols and their various worship patterns. These believers had eagerly let go of their idols and embraced the gospel of Jesus.
But their faith was deep. Paul writes that they had turned to God from idols to serve the true God. But he adds, “to wait for his Son from heaven.” Theirs was a hope-rich faith. They believed the promise of Christ’s return. They were waiting for it. They were not sitting still waiting as though it would be today, but they were going, sharing, serving, and showing this Jesus to all with whom they had contact.
It seems to me that Paul concludes this statement with the “why” of their hope. He said that they were waiting for God’s Son from heaven—the very One “whom he raised from the dead.” He clearly identifies him as “Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
My friends, when we fix our eyes, our hearts, our attention, our affections on Jesus, the risen Savior, the inevitable outcome is a contagious faith, a faith that stands up to the struggles of real life. A Real Life Faith is a contagious faith.
Father, teach me to fix my heart and all that is within me upon you. Make in me a contagious faith that makes a real life difference every day.