Introduction: Hard Times
Is it hard to be a Christian? I suppose it depends on where you are and
what you are doing. There are people in the world, right now, who are
being shamefully and brutally treated because they profess the name of
Jesus. But you are probably not one of them. I certainly am not. Who do
you know, personally, who has been killed because of his belief in Jesus
Christ? Do you know anyone who has been beaten? Do you know anyone who has
been jailed because he refused to deny the name of Jesus? I donít.
I think there are a lot of saints who will laugh at us if someday we
meet them and claim it was hard for us to serve Jesus. When the church was
new, it was worth your life in some places to admit your Christianity.
There were times and places where you were relatively safe if you didnít
do anything. Some of the early churches were born in trouble and never had
peace. One of these was the church in ThessalonicaĖthe people to whom
Paulís letters to the Thessalonians were written. [Painting:
St. Paul by Rembrandt van Rijn}