Archive for January, 2013

I Thessalonians 4:14

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.

This is the heart of the Christian faith. It is from this sense of the infinite and unending grace of God’s love that pours into our lives, remaking all suffering and death, from which arises any ethic and any lifestyle that may be called distinctively Christian.

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I Thessalonians 4:13

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

Nevertheless, Paul is writing, there is the incredible, life-changing resurrection hope, that even changes the way we grieve. It doesn’t mean we don’t grieve. But we grieve with a deep sense of the power of love to connect and re-connect, and that this will be true beyond all time.

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I Thessalonians 4:12

…so that you may behave properly towards outsiders and be dependent on no one.

It’s not the apocalypse. All bets are not off. Paul is trying to show that hope for Jesus’ return does not mean the end of daily living, but rather a transformation of daily life.

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I Thessalonians 4:11

…to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you,….

See previous blog post. I will just add here that my one time rabbi mentor Ed Friedman used to like to ask rhetorically: “Why is it that all across America, people are trying to live other people’s lives instead of their own.” He, of course, had an answer. It’s so much more addictive and easy to work on someone else from a distance than to do the hard work of growing in our own hearts and minds.

Paul agrees: “Mind your own affairs.”

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I Thessalonians 4:10

…and indeed you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more,….

As we shall see, Paul is heading toward an encouragement to live normal lives, rather than “whooping it up” in expectation of the end of the world and return of Jesus. However strong the hope for and expectation of a new heaven and new earth, the pathway is ever to plant gardens, organize your papers, clean up, and create something useful.

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I Thessalonians 4:9

 Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another;….

Yes, love one another. Not organize one another. Not tolerate one another. Certainly not be mean or lethal to one another. Not even just care for one another. But love one another.

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I Thessalonians 4:8

Therefore whoever rejects this rejects not human authority but God, who also gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Again, it’s not just words. It’s the Spirit, and power, and conviction. It’s people taking risks, giving up their days and their lives. And not for human dominance. But for a divinely inspired love.

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