Monday, February 3, 2014

2 Thessalonians

For the past fifteen months, my focus has been on creating more of a social media presence for the church at which I serve (Fairfax Baptist Church in Fairfax, MO). In conjunction, I needed to reset my own understanding of how I would use social media personally to post messages while also posting on behalf of the church.

Today, marks the renewal of this blog. I plan to blog each Monday with thoughts related to my sermon from the previous day. Currently, I am in the midst of a series preaching one sermon from each book of the Bible, largely related to the glory of God. I pick up the study here in 2 Thessalonians.

The first letter to the Thessalonians was after Paul sent Timothy to get a report on how they were doing in their new-found faith. His report was good. However, they people of Thessalonica also had questions for Paul. One of the questions was about the return of Christ (answered in 1 Thessalonians 4.13-18). The second letter addresses a similar concern because of some false information being passed around (2 Thessalonians 2.2-3).

Paul, and his companions, write often about the return of Christ in some form (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 4, Titus 2, 1 Corinthians 15). Yet while he writes often, he doesn't get specific with the timing. If anything, Paul is concerned far more with living in the present and not worrying about tomorrow (see also Jesus's words in Matthew 6).

In 2 Thessalonians, Paul stresses what we (as believers) are to do while praying for what God may do. In fact, Paul uses the word "may" many times in 2 Thessalonians. Verses such as 1.5, 1.11, 1.12, 2.14, 2.16, 3.1, 3.5, and 3.16 are examples. Specifically, we could break these down as prayers of:

  • worthiness - 2 Thessalonians 1.5, 1.11a, 2.14
  • work - 2 Thessalonians 1.11b, 1.12, 2.16-17
  • guidance - 2 Thessalonians 3.1, 5
  • goodwill - 2 Thessalonians 3.16

Paul is challenging his readers to be actively involved in their faith. He encourages them to be sanctified, to stand firm, and to not be idle in living out their faith. "Make sure you are worthy of your calling" is not a challenge of their salvation, but is rather a challenge issued to encourage each one (of them & us) to participate with God in our sanctification (growth).

Ultimately, Paul's concern was with the inactivity of certain members because of the expectations of Jesus' return - getting rather direct in Chapter 3.6-12. Many people had an attitude of why should I work if Jesus is coming back? The reality is that we should work all the more because Jesus is coming back. It is as Oswald J. Smith (Canadian pastor from the 20th Century) said, "We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has not heard of the first."

The truth is that many, myself included, don't always work because we are worried about our comfort. Yet, Paul prays that God would comfort us (2.16-17) because of our good work and word. He prays that we will receive the fullness of God's peace in every time in every way because we are in need of His peace while we are working with and for Him.

How many of us fail to ask for God's peace or comfort because we are working so hard to secure our own peace and comfort? How many of us miss the opportunity for God to lift us up and provide comfort that is beyond our ability to create? Most importantly how many of us miss an opportunity to introduce others to the eternal peace that God offers?

Paul's prayer was for his readers to be active. That was true of his original readers. It is true of us today. May we partner with God for our own growth while we partner with Him to reach others - making disciples while we wait for our Lord's return!

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