Sermon – August 16, 2020
We have come to the end of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. It is a tremendously positive letter, filled with love and encouragement. Nevertheless, Paul does have instruction and admonition for the young congregation. Here, Paul rifles through final exhortations, leaving for the Thessalonians a compendium of items that they need to pursue. We would do well to listen to this list, to pursue these items with fervency and delight. We can and should do these things, not because it wins us our salvation, nor because we are able to in our own might, but rather because it is the will of God for us, and the God of peace himself will sanctify us completely!
1. Love the leaders of the church
The leaders of the church are given by Christ for his body, both with obligations and privliges to that body. These leaders are to be respected, in that they are known to be leaders and are treated as such. Further, they need to be esteemed highly in love. However, such obligations are not alone – they come with great priveliges as well! Such leaders are to labor, love, and lead the congregation well. With all parts working for one another, we ought to walk in peace with one another.
2. Love the laity of the church
The laity of the church, the non-leaders, also have a role to play in the ministry. Much like the leaders, they are to admonish those who are unruly and skirting their responsibility both to the church and the Lord. They are to come alongside and hold onto the fainthearted and weak, helping them to run the race that is before them. Further, they are always to trust in the Lord’s justice, and therefore never seek to repay evil with evil, but do good to all.
3. Love the Lord of the church
We are to love one another, primarily, because we love the Lord of the church. This is seen in two ways here: first, in how we speak to God (through our rejoicing, praying, and thanksgiving) and secondly in how we hear from God (by allowing God to speak, but testing all prophecies by the surety of his Scripture). In these ways we prove our love for the Lord, seeking his aid and demonstrating our gratitude, and listening to him as he speaks truth to us.
These are daunting tasks, especially known by those who have attempted them in the past. Indeed, only those who have put on this burden know the difficulty of such instruction. Yet, gloriously, we have our aid from God, who has not only provided the means of our holiness through Christ, but will see us through to the end. So press on, excelling all the more Church, for he who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it!