Given what we learned yesterday, it is not difficult to see why-when the gospel came to Thessalonica-many non-Jews of the city responded positively. Whether or not Paul was aware of the Cabirus cult before arriving in the city, his Messianic approach in the synagogue resonated with the unique spiritual longings of the local pagans.
When the gospel came to Thessalonica, the working classes of the city were ready for it, and they responded in large numbers. They were also ready for extreme interpretations of the gospel. The Cabirus cult had enshrined in the people a spirit of rebellion against authority that may have been the source of the disorderly conduct that Paul addresses in his two letters to them (see 1 Thess. 4:11, 12; 5:14; 2 Thess. 3:6, 7, 11).
Read 1 Corinthians 9:19-27. What fundamental missionary strategy does Paul lay out in this passage? What potential danger lurks in this method? How can the two principles of this passage be kept in proper balance?
The gospel has the greatest impact when it impacts the needs, hopes, and dreams of the audience. But while the Holy Spirit can provide bridges for the gospel, this normally happens as a result of much listening and prayerful experimentation on the part of those witnessing. Experience has also taught us that people are most open to the Adventist message in times of change. Among the changes that open people to new ideas are economic turmoil, political strife, war, weddings, divorce, dislocation (moving from one place to another), health challenges, and death. The Thessalonians had experienced their fair share of change and dislocation, and this helped the gospel to take root.
But people who are baptized in times of dislocation also tend to be unstable, at least at first. Most apostasies occur in the first few months after conversion. The letters to Thessalonica bear witness to considerable instability in the church in the months following Paul’s original visit.
What can we do to help members who are still adjusting to their new life in Christ? Seek out someone new, or even a young person. What can you do to help keep this person grounded and stable in the Lord? You’ll be amazed to find out how much this kind of ministry will help strengthen yourself, as well.