Epistle: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
6Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, 8and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. 9This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. 10For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. 11For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. 12Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 13Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.
Paul’s letters to the church in Thessalonica focus on a church that is trying to figure out how to continue on as they await Jesus Christ’s return. As we say in worship, “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.”
It is that last statement that the Paul addresses in these letters. There were members of the church who heard the word that Jesus would be coming again, so they quit their jobs and hung out in Mom and Dad’s basement, living off of them. No reason to get a job, support the family, contribute to needs of others. Jesus is coming again, so why bother?
Well the issue, of course, is that Jesus didn’t give a timeline on his return. The early church had those who walked with Jesus and could tell first-hand stories of his ministry. But over time, they started to die off before Jesus returned. What would happen to them after they died? And what do we do in the meantime?
We find ourselves still waiting. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ WILL come again.
First of all, we need to trust that God’s promise to us in baptism is that God names us and claims us and promises to never let go. As Saint Paul writes to the church in Rome, “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:8)
God’s promises are eternal.
What that looks like? I know we would like to know all the details of what life after death is like, and what heaven will be like and what happens when we die. First of all, I am confident when we get to heaven, no one will say, “Gosh, I am kind of disappointed.” Secondly, we need to trust in God who hasn’t failed us yet.
May we hold tight to the promise that God holds us tight.
So in the meantime, what are we to do? Paul’s words in verse 12 answer that for me: 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you.”
Love for one another and for all.
Now let’s understand that the love Paul encourages is agape love. A love that is not “I love you more than chocolate” love. No. It is a love that puts the other first. Always. What is that which is best for my neighbor? How can I love them in this way?
What would the world look like if we all lived by that mantra?
Knowing that tomorrow is firmly in God’s grasp, may we strive to love as God loves you and me.
Let us pray: Almighty God, your love abounds. May we love as you love. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen