Sermon – September 13, 2020
Balance is difficult to achieve in this life. Given a beam on the ground, many of us would be able to walk over it with no alarm or problem. But placed over the Grand Canyon, with certain death below, and balance seems hard to come by! Christians realize the dangers and death that surround us and know that to fall on either side of many issues is to fall into death. Here is legalism – there is licentiousness. Here is a holding to obstructive traditions – there is a rejection of that which is helpful and good. How might we achieve balance in our Christian walk between the reality of justice and grace?
Paul reminds the Thessalonians of his thankfulness to God for them. Paul knows that, while the Thessalonians are models of how the word of God is received and lived out, even this brings only thankfulness to God and not them. God is the author of our salvation from first to last. It is his love for us, it is his choosing of us, it is his calling of us that brings salvation. This salvation is depicted in contrast to the rebellion in the previous passage. God calls his people into holiness and a belief in the truth, not to a love of unrighteousness and deception. God is good to his people, delivering them freely by his own good grace. Be filled with gratitude for this unspeakable gift!
Not that what Paul says in v. 15 is weighty, but that is not what is meant by gravity here. Rather, what we need is something to keep us tethered to the ground of our faith, something that will keep us from flying into the void and nothingness of the world of sin and despair. This is achieved, both for the Thessalonians and for us, by keeping ourselves attached to and believing in God’s word. Let us not be entrapped by the thoughts of the world, the culture, or even our own traditions. Be pulled down and tethered to the faith by the word; test everything by it, live by it, and you will survive through many storms.
We were not meant to simply to have a one time infusion of grace, filling up our tank while we slowly run out of gas. Rather, God continually gives us grace, reminding us of his love for us and of the gifts that love brings in its wake. We have eternal comfort and good hope through his grace and love in Jesus Christ, not the temporary and fleeting comfort and hope the world provides. Because of these things, he brings us even more comfort and seals and establishes our hearts as his through the work and words we produce.