Idleness and disruption can damage a group of people trying to live and work together.
Every ship’s crew is grouped together in teams of members who have been trained to do the same tasks. One group can skillfully navigate the ship. One group expertly handles the ropes. Another group takes charge of the technology and computers. And still another group masterfully maintains all the essential engines. It requires all members in each of those groups to do their job.
Inevitably, the youngest, most novice crew members on ships will not want to participate in the work. They tend to try to avoid it. And inevitably, someone finds out that those young, inexperienced crew members did not complete their work.
The older, crustier, saltier, more experienced crew members offer on-the-spot training. Sometimes that extra training makes life more difficult for the novices than if they had done their assigned work as contributing members of the crew in the first place.
Whatever extra training the older sailors can come up with could not be as severe as Paul’s suggestion. He tells the congregation that any members of the community unwilling to work should not eat. Those are pretty harsh consequences. But they drive home a point: If we remain idle how can we obtain food?
But it feels as if Paul has more in mind. Is Paul asking the community to think about this truth in a spiritual context? If we remain unwilling to work in our faith, how can we keep it alive? Life as God intends must be connected to our faith. If we want to live a Christlike life, then we have to be intentional, active, and always in pursuit of the good. To live is to pursue Christ.
God, you have instructed us to do good; so help us do good always. Amen.
This week we read two passages from the prophet Isaiah. In the first, God promises a total restoration, a new heaven and a new earth— a theme repeated in Revelation 21. The new Jerusalem will be filled with joy and prosperity. Isaiah 12 offers thanksgiving to God for the gift of salvation. God’s praise will be proclaimed among many nations. In the epistle, Paul chastises a lazy faction among the Thessalonians. This passage has been misapplied as teaching against providing assistance to the poor, but Paul’s target is not the poor; it is those who can provide for themselves but fail to do so because they say they are too focused on waiting for Jesus. In Luke, Jesus foretells future turmoil for Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans.
Read Isaiah 65:17-25. How can you play a part in Isaiah’s vision for God’s people? When do you have to accept that only God can usher in this vision? How do you know the difference between these two situations?
Read Isaiah 12. How can your words be life-changing for others?
Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13. Who has mentored you in the faith? How has their guidance kept you disciplined and helped you grow?
Read Luke 21:5-19. How do you speak the truth of Jesus to those who say the end is near?
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