Memorize & Ponder for Sunday Feb 22, 2015
Here Comes the Judge!
2 Thessalonians 1: 3-4 (NRSV)
We must always give thanks to God for you,
brothers and sisters,
as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly,
and the love of every one of you
for one another is increasing.
Therefore we ourselves boast of you
among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith
during all your persecutions
and the afflictions you are enduring.
Being the Church in Christ: Wisdom from Pastor Paul
(The Brentwood Sermon Series for 2015)
Throughout 2015, the Christian community at Brentwood Presbyterian Church will be considering how to be the church in Jesus Christ, guided by the wisdom of Pastor Paul. We invite you to listen for what the Spirit is saying in the text, then question how those insights might change the ways you see things and act in the world. Share your thoughts during the week on the meaning the Spirit creates for you in this text by posting a comment on our website – www.brentwoodpc.ca.
A Provocative Pondering
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us provoke one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together … (Hebrews 10:23-25a)
There are a couple of things worth noting prior to addressing the main focus of our full reading for this week – God’s judgment.
Paul sees himself as part of a ‘we’ when he is writing. In the letters to the Thessalonian church, it is Timothy and Silvanus. They accompanied Paul on some of his missionary journeys and are clearly close colleagues in the witness and work of these early churches. It is a communal endeavor, where mutual love and support is crucial.
Paul and his colleagues also practice what they preach. This second letter is filled with the faith, hope, and love urged on the Thessalonians in the first letter. We’ll see these three cornerstones of Christianity coming up over and over again in Paul’s writings.
The major theme of the full reading is God’s judgment. That judgment is “righteous” and it is meant to make people “worthy of the kingdom of God.” God’s righteousness is seen in the way he wants relationships to be with him, with others, and with your own self – faithful, hopeful, and loving. That faith, hope,and love make you worthy of the kingdom of God. That worthiness is a gift of God, given in Jesus Christ, and made real in your daily lives by the workings of the Holy Spirit.
How God will execute this judgment is God’s business. In the end, we have to look to the model of Jesus Christ for how God suffers and forgives. Paul, in this letter, gets caught up in his anger at the perescution of his friends in Christ. That anger is understandable, but the vengeance of the flaming fire may just be a human desire unworthy of a follower of the forgiving God we see in Jesus Christ.