#DailyDevotion The Lord Actually Expects His People To Love One Another
2 Thess. 1:1-5 I PAUL, SILAS, AND TIMOTHY to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace! 3We always have to thank God for you, my fellow Christians. It is the right thing to do because your faith is growing wonderfully and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing, 4so much so that we’re boasting about you in God’s churches how you endure and trust no matter how much you’re persecuted and made to suffer. 5It shows how God judges righteously: He means to make you worthy of His kingdom, for which you are suffering;…
Paul, Silas and Timothy are engaging a congregation they had started long ago. It is their second letter to them that we know of. Unfortunately, many of Paul’s letters are written because there are problems in the congregations. Fortunately for us though, through these problems we know of the oral teachings of the apostles. Indeed, the whole council of God in Christ Jesus we have now in the New Testament largely because of problems. In fact, the one letter Paul writes which probably was inaugurated because he was planning a visit and wanted to show his unity with them in the teachings of the apostles is his letter to the Romans, which is his most systematic letter. Well Paul is writing to the Thessalonians because they have some problems. However, it’s not all problems.
But before we get to the meat of this lesson, I’d like to point out a false teaching out there that some erring denominations like to use to get legitimacy for themselves and that is by naming. So in the beginning of the letters Paul writes as we see here, he addresses them as “the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” So some errant denominations will name themselves styling themselves after how the apostle addresses them. So you will get “Church of God” or “Church of God in Christ Jesus” or “Church of Christ”, the list goes on. Well the Church belongs to God, to Christ Jesus and exist in God and in Christ Jesus, and it is located on places on earth. However the legitimacy of a Church’s teachings is based on the teachings of the Church and not on the name. We should thank God, we the Church, are in God and in Christ and God and Christ are in us.
While letters of the day often begin with grace and peace from a deity, when the apostle writes this it isn’t a mere formality. No, he actually is blessing them with the blessing from their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Christ alone do we and they find grace and peace. Grace, the undeserved favor of God the Father toward us in which the salvation of our God is found. Peace, Christ Jesus is our peace, our shalom, our eirene (Irene) with God and with one another. Through this grace and peace in Christ Jesus we can stand before God the Father with boldness and confidence and we can stand with one another.
Paul gives thanks that such grace and peace is multiplying the love they have for one another. While many pastors don’t like qualitative or quantitative talk, because sinful human beings like to turn that into salvation by merit, nevertheless, it is expected that you and I will increase in love for one another more and more. Jesus said, “They will know you by your love for one another.”
Paul also praises them for enduring suffering for the sake of Jesus. Such suffering for his name’s sake make us worthy of the kingdom. Jesus also said, “Whoever isn’t willing to lose family, fortune and even his own life, isn’t worthy of the kingdom.” (paraphrased) So we too may have to suffer for Christ’s sake, his work and his teaching. It may be in subtle ways or more overt like the Thessalonians, but suffer you will. Will Paul and Jesus give thanks for your endurance in the midst of it? I pray it is so.
Almighty God and Father, grant that your grace and peace may so have its way with us that our love for one another always increases and we endure all things for the name of your son Jesus Christ, that we may be found worthy of your eternal kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.