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God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 27 - 1 Thessalonians; 2 Thessalonians: Living the Beautiful Life Until the Resurrection

Today’s Reading: 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians

The Message

English Standard Version


Today we read two New Testament books. I want to keep each book separate in the summaries, so today I will write two summaries, one for each book. That way I do not need to condense them into one, 100-word summary.

Thought to Guide Your Reading

The Thessalonians wanted to set things right but they were confused over the Resurrection.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

1 Thessalonians

Paul with Silas and Timothy greet the church at Thessalonica. You have taken God's Message to heart! Your faith is famous!
Our Message has been purified through persecution.
You follow in the original disciples' footsteps—in both faith and persecution. No praise can do you justice.
Stay holy. Set things right—such a beautiful life.
Jesus' Resurrection gives us hope. Don't worry; the dead will join us for one big family reunion! No one knows when, though.
Act like creatures of Light. Build each other up.
May God make you wholly His—body, soul, spirit.
Jesus' Grace be with you!

2 Thessalonians

Paul, Silas, and Timothy greet the Thessalonian Christians. Your faith continues to grow! We are so proud of your faith-endurance.
Problems help you condition for the Kingdom. Justice will come at Jesus' Return!
Jesus has not returned yet. The Anarchist will come first. One day, God will overwhelm his fake signs. Stay firm—God will give you life.
Pray that our Message is received where we work now.
No freeloaders! Don't enable them but don't think of them as the enemy.
May God help you get along.
I, Paul, signed with my own hand.
Jesus' Grace be with you all!

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

The Thessalonians lived what Jesus taught.

Reading through Paul's boastings about them is uplifting, especially after spending a large amount of the year reading how Israel never got it. The Thessalonians, on the other hand, not only accepted Paul's Message of Jesus they lived it out. It is a huge encouragement for people who feel like being holy is impossible. When we live holy lives, the whole world takes note and Jesus' Message is accepted. If they could do it, so can we!

Trials and persecutions purify our faith.

Paul mentions his own persecution in the first letter and the church's persecution in the second. Both are used by God to get rid of impurities in their faith. The more they are persecuted the more they realize what is important and helpful in being holy. The other things are dropped or excised. Do not be discouraged by problems. They lead you to greater trust in God.

Paul encourages them to continue what they are doing, but not by going through the religious motions.

The things Paul tells them to do in the rest of the book are not "religious-y" things but focus on holiness and setting things right. Paul does not want them to become the replacements for the Jews—enjoying the rewards of being God's Chosen People without the responsibility of setting things right. He wants them to continue "in a living, spirited dance" (1 Thessalonians 4:1, The Message). Going through religious motions does not please God. Holy people setting things right does.

The hope of Resurrection separates us from the world.

Christianity is not a religion of the cross. We are a religion of the empty tomb. Jesus' Sacrifice may have set our relationship with God right but His Resurrection gives us hope that one day we will be with Him for eternity. The Resurrection was so important to the Thessalonians they became worried that their dead relatives would miss out. Paul sets their minds at ease by declaring that everyone will return from the dead to be with God. It will be one big family reunion!

The Message of Jesus does not lead to laziness.

Paul mentions this in the first letter but dedicates a long section to it in the second. He wants to make sure the Thessalonians do not think that just because rich people are selling what they have and giving to the poor that the poor can sit back and live off the proceeds. Paul tells them this is unacceptable. He and Silas did not live off them and they had a legitimate claim! Paul even goes to the point of saying the church should cut that person off—though he does not want them to be cut out of the church. Everyone pulls their own weight. Selling and giving should be reserved for those who have unexpected needs and/or those who cannot work.
This passage sets me at odds with much of the socialist programs in the world. The problem I see is not that they help the poor but that they cannot distinguish between those who need help and those goofing off. The church from the beginning helped everyone willing to be part of them. In fact, early Christians eliminated poverty within the church by giving to the poor. Government programs cannot do this because they lack the ability to say "no" when a person doesn't work. The bureaucracies are too far removed from the individual for it to be effective. Churches know if a person is being lazy or is legitimately unable to work. The federal government cannot. The question is not over whether the poor should be helped or not. The question is over which way would be more efficient and effective in eliminating poverty. The closer the giver is to the receiver, the better and more effective charity becomes.

Whose faith do you use as an example of trusting in God?


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