Daily Radio Bible Podcast
DON’T CHECK OUT
Today’s readings are I Thessalonians 4 – 5 and II Timothy 1 -3. We are reading from the New Living Translation.
The end is coming. The end is near. That’s what these so called teachers were saying. And though it was, and still is, a true statement that the end is coming and is near, these guys were taking it up a notch. They were false prophets trying to lead God’s people astray. They were trying to get them to come in from the fields of God’s work and head up to the rooftops. In effect they were saying, Abandon your call to the Gospel. Come put your flight suit on because Jesus is about to come take us out of here. Sell out and check out. That was their false message.
I’ve never been tempted to sell everything, put on a flight suit, sit out on my rooftop and wait for the Lord Jesus to come back. No teacher has bamboozled me enough to go that far. But we can look at history and see where there are those who have. This reference in Thessalonians is perhaps the first time we see this apocalyptic escapism come upon the Church.
But there is something similar that we can be tempted to do. We can be tempted to find some kind of spiritual justification for checking out, disengaging, and running away.
Paul wants to encourage this church in Thessalonica and he wants to encourage us. There’s a work to do. God has done an amazing work in our lives. He has set us free by his grace and love. We have a responsibility. He has not called us to be idle and check out. He’s called us to engage, roll up our sleeves and keep at the work that he’s called us to do. Paul is trying to shore up these folks. They’ve been rattled. People have told them that it’s time to check out. But Paul is telling them, that this is not the time to check out. This is the time to move forward. The temptation to check out is a real one. You don’t have to get up on your roof. There are lots of ways that we can check out. You can check out with a bottle, online, shopping, and a hundred other ways.
Don’t grow weary doing good. Keep your hand to the plow. Keep doing what God has asked you to do. Jesus is coming back, but he’s never calling us to check out. There’s work to do in our lives and in this world. There are men, and women, boys and girls, waiting to be set free.
Paul’s prayer is that our hearts, in the meantime, would be full of understanding of what God has called us to as individuals and as communities of faith. He prays that we will be a full expression of the love of God. He prays that the marker in our lives that distinguishes us, would not be that we checked out but that we engaged with acts of love and kindness in this world.
Patient endurance will not come from trying to muster up strength, trying harder, and trying new things. No, that endurance will come from Christ. He is the source of our strength.
The Lord is coming back, but until that time, we keep at what God has called us to do, allowing his joy to be our strength.
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