“For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain, but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-2
“Paul’s past experiences had prepared him well to minister to the Thessalonian church. He had traveled from Philippi where, even though a Roman citizen, he had been stripped naked, publicly beaten, humiliated, and thrown into the darkest chambers of the local prison where he was kept in stocks. As he arrived in Thessalonica, the wounds on his back were still fresh and his scars, both on the inside and out, were tender. Yet Paul was ready and willing to take on this next season of his missionary work, in part because he had experienced the power of God at work even in the face of adversity.
Remembering how the Philippian jailer had come to Christ for salvation as a result of God bearing witness through something as simple as an earthquake, he recognized that the boldness needed to present the Gospel and make disciples did not come from within himself but from God. In fact, he immediately declared this truth as he reminded the Thessalonians of his past trials. Paul struggled with both outward persecutions and inward doubts as he came to those the Lord gave him to mentor; yet he recognized that his faith in God was his only sure hope.
As we take on the task of mentoring our children, we, like Paul, must realize that ministry often means pain and suffering, heartache and opposition. Too often we are criticized by family members, ostracized by our neighbors and mocked by fellow believers. Even our children are often resistant to us, balking at learning the basic subjects and many times even the Gospel message itself. Combined with the stress of everyday life as a homemaker and teacher, we can easily become discouraged when we see little to no fruit for our efforts.
The Greek word Paul chooses to use for “opposition” is interesting. “Agon” literally means “putting forth intense exertion in the face of conflict” and was typically used in the context of a sporting event where opponents fought to the death. We get our word “agony” from this word, hence the popular phrase from ABC’s Wide World of Sports: “The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.” How often do we fall into bed at night, knowing all too well the agony of defeat?
Paul reminded his beloved Thessalonians that he was willing to do spiritual battle on their behalf, assuring them that being a Christian is not easy. He was transparent with them as he shared his past experiences and painted no picture of a perfect Christian life. Just imagine Paul showing his scars to the wide-eyed believers, making sure they understood what embracing Christ could look like up close and personal!
This is the model Scripture places before us.”
from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home