1 Thessalonians 3:11 “Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you.”
This was more than just a sentimental request Paul was making. It flowed from his concern for the spiritual well-being of these people. Paul had established this church on his second missionary journey. As was so often the case, his time to instruct these people and build them up in their faith was cut short by an outbreak of persecution in that city. He had to flee in the middle of the night to avoid arrest and imprisonment.
That gave Paul a number of doctrinal and moral concerns for these people. They lived in a Gentile environment, and a Greek harbor town, where the idea of sexual purity was a complete novelty. They were having difficulty maintaining sexually godly behavior in that setting. The Thessalonians suffered from some rather serious misunderstandings about Christ’s second coming. Some thought they could quit their work and just sit around and wait for Jesus to re-appear. Others didn’t quite understand the resurrection and lost hope for their believing friends and family who died. It seems these people came from a culture that practiced a certain amount of deceit and craftiness in its business dealings with others. They struggled to give up practices that used to seem normal and prudent.
So Paul prayed for God to clear the way. It was the prayer of a pastor for his people. In verse 10 he says, “Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.” It was a prayer the people could pray for their pastor. Then Paul could come and better prepare their faith and life for Christ to come.
Could you pray for the Lord to clear the way for your pastor to come to you? “But,” you may think, “we already see him often enough. He lives nearby. Why do we need to pray for the Lord to clear the way for our pastor to come to us?”
Aren’t we also bombarded with wrong ideas from a culture that considers sexual purity a novelty, and is losing its way on matters of ethical business practice? For that we need to pray. Already 10 years ago an article in Newsweek revealed one out of four Americans in this so-called “Christian” nation embraces the concept of reincarnation. We, too, are losing our grip on a faithful Biblical understanding of what happens to people after death as we wait for Christ to come. For that we need to pray. Like Lot, who lived in the godless city of Sodom, our environment causes our own beliefs and morals to slip. Our own sinful natures are all-too-happy to embrace the slide. Like Paul, we need to pray that the Lord will clear the way for pastor and people to see each other again and again, because of the many challenges to our faith.
Most of all, we need the Lord to clear the way so that those who preach can bring us the gospel. The main thing my faith lacks is the same thing that your faith lacks–an unwavering trust in the grace and love of God. That is supplied only in the good news about Jesus. I pray that God will clear the way for pastors to lead people to the side of the manger–not to see an adorable little baby who makes you smile; nor an impoverished little baby who makes your heart break; but to see the God you worship reduce himself to a ordinary, fragile, human baby so that he could suffer what you suffer, and struggle with your struggles, and even shoulder the sins that you have sinned as your substitute.
I pray for pastors to lead people to the foot of the cross, where we can see that same immortal God taste human mortality, and die the death our sins deserve, and pay the price that sets us free from them. God sent this holy child to make you his holy child. By his justifying grace and forgiveness that is who you now are.
Join Paul in praying for Christ to come and clear the way for this good news and those who bring it to us.