“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.”
2 Thessalonians 1: 3-4
2 Thessalonians 1: 3-12
In the Artic, under extreme conditions, flowers and trees survive and indeed grow. They, in season, are nourished by the sun and water runoff from glaziers. They develop close to the ground due to the searing winds. The willow tree lives here but it looks more like a flower due to its diminutive appearance; its roots grow horizontally rather than down due to the conditions. Proof that growth can occur in difficult conditions.
Today we continue in the letters of Thessalonians; passages often referred to during advent. Today we read how in persecution and trials the early Church flourished; their faith increased as did their visible love, one for another. They surely grew because the Son fed them with the waters of life. Their roots unlike the willow were rooted down in Jesus (Colossians 1: 6-7), however like the willow their roots also grew horizontally, outwardly into the Body, their brothers and sisters in Christ (Ephesians 4: 15-16). This is indeed how we could react and grow in this time; perseverance in trials binds a group together and helps them grow. We see examples of this in the persecuted Church in our present day and in history. However, the opposite can occur, separation and bitterness can result at such times especially if we focus on the difficulty itself or ourselves.
The Thessalonians were encouraged to look to Christ’s return and His role in judgement; the truth that we will all have to give account for our lives (a key focus during Advent) (vs. 5-10). The words may well seem harsh to us but I believe the underlying message is one of recognition. Recognition: that judgement lies in the hands of God, not ours; recognition that God is ultimately sovereign; recognition that there is a purpose and plan; and recognition that in Jesus Christ and His teaching, all makes sense.
In the closing verses we see these truths connecting in a prayer for the Thessalonians (vs. 11-12). The prayer asks that God will make them worthy of their calling and by His power fulfil their good plans and acts prompted by faith. Their lives will then bring glory to Jesus Christ and they will be glorified in Him. So let us, by God’s grace, pray this prayer one for another. May God’s power in us fulfil our good intentions and acts of faith. May we grow into Jesus and one another in this season of challenge assured that Jesus will return in accordance with our Father’s plan of salvation and reconciliation.
To Ponder: A few thoughts to consider today:
Pray: O Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming sent your messenger to prepare your way before you: grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready your way by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in your sight; for you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
Praise: Noel by Lauren Daigle
From the Squalor of a Borrowed Stable (Immanuel) by Stuart Townend
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.