1 & 2 Thessalonians Part Three Dive
WHAT YOU DO IN LIFE ECHOES IN ETERNITY
Sometimes I find myself feeling uncomfortable and convicted as I read the Bible and I wish the words that made me feel that way were simply not there. The Bible is my book of truth, it is the book that teaches me, informs my thinking, my behaviour, the way I see my life. But some things in the Bible offend my comfortable way of living and I don’t like it! I don’t like feeling convicted, I don’t like feeling like I have to do something, I don’t like feeling like there is no other option and so reading 2 Thessalonians is definitely a challenge!
1 & 2 Thessalonians will make you uncomfortable, they will push you to think about things that destroy your comfort zone and propel you into a world of thinking that will change your behaviour. These books will help you decide if having that awkward conversation of the gospel is worth getting out of your comfort zone, if that conviction of the Holy Spirit to go and talk to your neighbours or your family is really worth it!
Honestly, sometimes I find myself so consumed with the things of this world that I forget the main reason I am here on this earth. I get consumed with wanting a beautiful life, whatever that looks like; that perfect house, that perfect family, that perfect holiday, that perfect body type etc etc. But is that what the people of the New Testament did? No! They didn’t strive for a comfortable life, but for a Christ centred life – that is very different. They had an urgency of the power of the cross of Jesus Christ and a passion to tell everyone about it.
The More Time Passes, The More Our Urgency Lessens
When I teach 1 & 2 Thessalonians, I start with this warning: ‘Today, I don’t want you to feel condemned about your behaviour, but you may feel convicted and, as your teacher, I am okay with that’. As Christians today, we can get offended at sermons, people and Bible verses thinking they are condemning us, when really, they are convicting us and shifting us out of our comfort zone. Paul is not condemning the church in Thessalonica but he is bringing truth, belief, warning and conviction. So, what is the difference? Condemnation tells you the issue but doesn’t give you an answer, whereas conviction tells you the issue and gives you an answer, a hope, a way out.
When you read 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12, you cannot help but feel the passion and urgency in Paul’s voice, and the truth that resounds in it for those who don’t know Jesus. He knows God has done everything He can so that people will not face what he is describing in these verses; Jesus Christ is the exit door but some won’t take it.
Paul is talking to Christians that are suffering for the gospel message and telling them why they are to not seek a comfortable existence here on earth, why they are to keep persevering and enduring under trials (Chapter 1:4), to keep suffering (Chapter 1:5), to stand firm and hold fast to teachings (Chapter 2:15) and to never tire of doing what is good (Chapter 3:13). Some in the congregation of Thessalonica had thought that because Jesus was coming back, they could sit back, relax and just wait for His return. Paul talks the them directly in Chapter 3, ‘“The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat”. We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busy-bodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat’ (2 Thessalonians 3:10b-12).
Can you see the two instructions in this book? Don’t let suffering stop you from being convicted and urgent about evangelism. Don’t let it push you back into your comfort zone. You may get embarrassed or persecuted for preaching, but keep on going! The other warning is to not be idle waiting for Jesus to return. Don’t get so comfortable in your salvation that you stop working – get to work!
What you are going to read in Thessalonians cannot be ignored, it will change your behaviour! Though our grace-filled churches may not preach this with vehemence anymore, there are two choices at the end of life. That means that you may have to forfeit the comfort of this life to allow the conviction of the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to spur you on and motivate you to live your life for the decision of eternity. My all-time favourite movie puts it best, ‘What we do in life echoes in eternity!’ This quote from Gladiator is so true. What we do in this life – our actions, our decisions, where we pour our money, what we invest our time into – all echoes into eternity.
It's not politically correct, it’s not comfortable, it’s not a ‘nice’ sermon, but it is the truth. Don’t shy away from the conviction in Thessalonians, but don’t get condemned so that you see them as judgement without an answer. Paul is not condemning you, just challenging you. Take up the call today!