We’re due for the next TTWB segment, but I wanted to hit 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 briefly and comment on the American situation.
First, the comment: it’s a mess out there. First, you have the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. (I’d use “murder” but that is a technical, legal term and it is possible that one of my three readers could be in a jury pool if the folks who pulled the trigger ever go to trial. I don’t want to contaminate the pool.) Then you have ham-fisted responses to these killings by the local authorities, essentially trying to paper over these misuses of power. Now you have protests, some of which were handled appropriately and others were mangled in the government response (see the video of authorities in Minnesota shooting tear gas or something at people ON THEIR OWN FRONT PORCH, for starters), and questions. Lots of questions.
With that in mind, believers, let’s take a look at 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13.
Verse 11 is Paul’s prayer that God would bring him back to the Thessalonians. That’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it? There is a good example to be found here: we ought to love the people we have served God with enough that we’d like to go back and see them again. There is plenty of theology and Christology to be had here, but we’ll set that aside for now.
Verse 12 is the high-point here: the prayer that our love increases and overflows for one another. Where are we on that?
Where are we within the church? With all of God’s people?
I think we need to really pray through that before we answer it.
Verse 13 wraps it back up: blameless hearts before God our Father, so that at the coming of the Lord Jesus, when we see judgment come on this world like a flood, we are ready to be in the presence of God’s holiness.
Now: what do we do?
Every action you take, every word you speak, all belong to God’s lordship and will fall under His judgment in due time.
What will you do? You do not need me or another preacher or an author or anyone else, really, to tell you what to do that you haven’t already heard: open your Bible, listen to God speak through His word, by His Spirit, and do what He said: love your neighbor as yourself.
And if you want to define “your neighbor,” simply find the people who your people have hated for 400 years. That’s who the Samaritans were to the Jews. Oh, and probably they didn’t use the term hate. Generally, they just appreciated that they were Jews and not Samaritans, and preferred to avoid them.
So….who is your neighbor?
I think you can answer that question. I think you should answer that question: too often, we want our answers spoon-fed to us, so that we can then blame the messenger for getting it wrong, or when it gets hard, we can say, “Well, that was his idea, anyway, so I’ll leave it.”
You will face the Almighty God at some point and will answer for how you have loved His people. And if you are a follower of Christ, it may be the saddest moment of your life as your Father in Heaven asks why you never loved your own family.
I pray that we all overflow with love for our brothers and sisters.