Perceptions of early Christianity: quiet, holy, peaceful, overcomers, joyous, carefree though persecuted
Key Thought: A relationship with God should challenge your value system and rearrange the details of your life. Few stories demonstrate this better than the Church at Thessalonica.
1. We have a solid source to inform our faith – Acts 17:1-4
- Sacred writings guided New Testament thinking
- “Explaining” (vs. 3) was key part of communicating
- Jesus was the central doctrine explained
“explaining” (dialegomai) — to engage in an interchange of speech; to think different things with oneself, to mingle thought with thought, and so to ponder or revolve in one’s mind; to reason as one might do using thoughtful arguments to persuade another
2. Often emotional reactions lead us away from factual realities – Acts 17:5-9
Notice some of the techniques that emotionalism will use:
- Create friendship based upon hatred of someone else
- A rush to judgement which leads to a rush in mob action
- Even legal action
3. Paul changed strategies without changing his mission. Paul and Silas could not stay in the city. So they sent a new, untested leader to help the church—Timothy.
Leaders: Sometimes the greatest thing you will do is to lead and influence the person who does the greatest thing.
What difference does God make?
- Faith in God leads to more trust in the Bible, not less.
- Faith in God avoids emotionalism.
- Faith in God reminds me to not give up.
Acts 17:1-15, 1 Thessalonians 1:7-9
TALK IT OUT
- Read Acts 17:1-4. When Paul had opportunities to share his faith with others, what topic was his primary focus?
- Read Acts 17:5-9. Instead of simply voicing their disagreement, some who opposed Paul reacted emotionally and fueled emotional responses in others. What was the result? Think of a time when you have seen someone’s emotional overreaction cause a situation to escalate out of control. How do you think things could have been handled differently?
- Read Acts 16:1-5; 1 Timothy 1:15-19; 4:12-16; 6:11-12, 20-21. From his initial encounter with Timothy, Paul clearly saw potential in him and invited him to serve alongside him on his missionary journeys. According to these passages, in what ways did Paul encourage Timothy? Name some other mentoring relationships—scriptural or otherwise—which have produced fruitful results.
- In this week’s message, Pastor Rusty shared that many of today’s young former churchgoers (ages 18-29) described Christians as controlling, shallow, anti-science, repressive, excluding of others and doubtless (dogmatic). Take a few moments to examine each of these criticisms individually. Do you think the criticism is valid? Why or why not? If so, what could we do differently to help change that perception?
- During his message, Pastor Rusty stated that a relationship with God should challenge your value system and rearrange the details of your life. In what ways has your relationship with God done that in your life? If you are not yet a believer, in what ways do you think having a relationship with God would affect your life?
LIVE IT OUT
- How well would you say you are able to explain Jesus to people? Name one thing you could begin doing this week to help you improve in this area.
- Think of someone you know in whom you see potential. What could you do to encourage them or to invest in their life in the next month or two?