Paul had a deep love for the folks at Thessalonica. He had personally won many of them to faith in Christ. He had a great desire to see them. Due to some circumstances which are unclear to us, Paul was unable to go there (see I Thessalonians 2:17-18). My friends, let’s face it. There are times when the circumstances of life throw us a curve; all the things we wanted to do, planned to do, are put on hold; heartache becomes our newest “best friend.” As John Lennon sang, “”Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” (Beautiful Boy).
Years ago I saw a great movie that I love watching over and over. Mr. Holland’s Opus is a movie about a frustrated composer in Portland, Oregon, who takes a job as a high school band teacher in the 1960s. Although diverted from his lifelong goal of achieving critical fame as a classical musician, Glenn Holland (played by Richard Dreyfuss) believes his school job is just a temporary sidetrack from his real dream.
At first he maintains his determination to write an opus or a concerto by composing at his piano after putting in a full day with his students. But, as family demands increase (including discovering that his infant son is deaf) and the pressures of his job multiply, Mr. Holland finally recognizes that his dream of leaving a lasting musical legacy is in the past and if he continued to hang onto those dreams, he would miss the present. My friend, if you want to serve Christ, learn to live in the “here and now” A.W. Tozer wrote, “The man who is crucified is facing only one direction . . . He cannot look back . . . he has no further plans of his own . . .
As I said, it’s not exactly clear what “hindered” Paul from going to Thessalonica; however it is abundantly clear who did it—Satan, the adversary. In this case it could have been the “religious” Jews. They were certainly opposed to Paul’s preaching of Christ. All we do know is that in another point Paul referred to his “thorn in the flesh.” That wasn’t some type of sickness; he clearly states it was the opposition he received. But whatever the instrument used, we can be certain who was instrumental in causing the hindrance. Ever since the Garden of Eden Satan’s greatest foe has always been those who worship the one true Creator God also called El Elyon (the Most High God). Satan couldn’t care less about you. He has always hated God. It is your faith and devotion to Yehoveh that irritates him. He is seeking every way he can find to circumvent and destroy your faith.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” —Genesis 3:15
The antidote for every hindrance as you serve Jesus is to keep resisting and leave the scorekeeping to God. If you think about it, you don’t really know what the score is. The early church was a dismal failure in the eyes of the world. They preached Christ unashamedly, many of them dying for their faith, and the persecution blood of the saints was the seed of the spread of the Gospel. The score on earth may have been Christians “0” and Lions “many;” but it was the other way around in the Throne room above!
The Dark Ages saw a reversal. The church was infiltrated by darkness and evil; a corrupt clergy wouldn’t allow the average man to even see a Bible, much less hear the Gospel. The church was prosperous in gold and silver, but devoid of the Spirit. Then came Martin Luther and the Reformation. True Christians were once again guerillas, outlaws of an apostate church, hunted and poor, but preaching the true Gospel.
Today the church is ripe for another “underground takeover.” With apostates creeping into every denomination, the adversary, Satan is at work obscuring the truth of the Gospel. But we can never tell the score by what some poll says, or who is in the White House, or what programs this or that church uses to draw a large crowd. The score is kept in a different set of books that belong to the Lamb. You keep fighting the good fight—leave the score to the Lamb.