Follow My Journey, or Reach Out And Connect:

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Scripture Sunday, Week 6

This is part of an ongoing series going through the book of 1 Thessalonians. You can find part one here.

"But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?  Indeed, you are our glory and joy. So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens.  We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them." -1 Thessalonians 2:17-20; 3:1-3

Hello all! I am excited to dive back into 1 Thessalonians with you and God this week.

So let's start. "But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time" I admit when I read the New Testament rhetoric of "brothers" a lot of time it goes in one ear and out the other. It seems symbolic or ritualistic at times. However, read this sentence and realize the bond and love of real brotherhood of Christ. They love them enough being separated from them feels like being "orphaned." Remember the key to this relationship we have not just with Christ but with others in Christ is one of deep, unifying love.

It's not just loving being around that person. "(in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way." I started this snippet with the parenthetical piece because I thought the emphasis that the Thessalonians were never far from their mind went with the intense longing then described. Have you ever been separated from a loved one? That's what's going on here, and I like how Paul insists that not only did he want to see them along with others, but personally he tried several times to get to them. I like those moments in the Pauline letters because I like seeing how human he is, personally. Here the group, but especially Paul is reassuring the Thessalonians that their absence was not from a lack of love. Then there's the interesting  note that Satan block their way. In modern Christianity it seems like most Christians either want to deny that Satan can do anything (or sometimes even exists) or they blame him for every little thing in the world. Paul, and I think the Biblical view, does neither. He's admitting that he was opposed by the enemy from coming to see them, but you'll also notice in his writings he doesn't blame everything on Satan or mention him a lot. The truth is we have an enemy, but our God is also sovereign and if Paul and the others had to get to the Thessalonians in order for a divine purpose to be accomplished then Satan nor anyone could have barred the way. However, this also shows that sometimes our desires even born out of love, such as Paul's to see the Thessalonians, are not essential to God's overall mission. And of course Paul and those in Christ this letter is written to are now in eternity together with Christ.

Okay, I admit this makes me really, really excited. You ready? "For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy." Wow. You know how people talk about laying down their crown at the feet of Jesus? Of hope? Of joy? Here Paul is telling us that for him, those things are the people he's had a hand in saving and discipling. Remember only two things we encounter in life are eternal: God and people. So often people work for God and worth with people without really, truly loving those people. And in this, of course, their work isn't what they think it is. Loving Christ and following Him means to love His people and to be willing to pour yourself out for them. This verse excites me! When I think of my actions on earth I often feel weighed down. Internally I often I see my failures and my weaknesses. But when I read this verse I think of the Christians I have loved and how eternally loving and lifting them up is what matters and my heart and spirit cry, "Yes!"

Now they get to one of the points of this letter. "So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens.  We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ" Paul and Silvanus are sending Timothy to the church in Thessalonica. The sentiment "to be left by ourselves in Athens" shows that parting from Timothy will be hard, but they are saying it's worth it so they can let the Thessalonians have his company and he can work for them and to help spread the gospel in Thessalonica.

They continue saying they are sending Timothy "to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them." The apostles are anticipating even more trials to come for the Thessalonians. Why? Because they are being faithful to Christ and as we've talked about in previous weeks trials and suffering are part of the life of a Christian, along with joy and hope! They want the Thessalonians to be prepared and not shaken by these things, so they are sending Timothy in the hopes he will be able to lovingly encourage and teach them to a fuller maturity in the stature of Christ. They are assured these things are coming because they are saying "we" are destined for trials and suffering. Who is this we? Why all Christians, of course...

The next week, week 7, can be found here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks so much for comments, they delight me! Please keep your comments civil and while I read every comment, I reserve the right to delete ones that are especially negative. Thanks!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...