Today’s reading: 1 Thessalonians 5
My son Freddy leaves for college in three weeks. From talking to several of my friends, I am finding there is a big difference between boys and girls when it comes to preparing to move away from home. My friends with daughters tell me their girls have been preparing for months by getting their parents to buy matching bedding, decorative pictures, and every expensive toiletry under the sun. Like me, my friends with sons have had the opposite struggle. We can’t get our boys to do much of anything.
Week before last, we pinned Freddy down and made him work through the University’s access checklist so we could get into to his online account. Did you know they don’t send tuition bills, or even copies of the bills, to parents anymore? Fortunately the first time around the University also sent an email to the parents to tell us the first payment was due. Whew, we almost missed that one!
Last night I sat down with Freddy to work the University’s move-in checklist and place a big Target order. First thing he tried to tell me was that he didn’t need soap. He claims that he uses shampoo to wash everything. Nonetheless, I bought him two bottles of bodywash. Next thing he tried to tell me was that he didn’t need a first aid kit. We landed on one box of band aids being good enough to start. Then he tried to tell me he didn’t EVER use Kleenexes (He said, “you know those things don’t work Mom.”). What? What do you think Kleenexes are designed to do, and for what have you been trying use them? I convinced him to take one box for when he gets a cold. Oh boy. Three hundred and fifty dollars later, we almost have everything he needs. While the checklist was super helpful, working through it with Freddy didn’t give me a whole lot of confidence he is really “ready” to move out.
Our scripture for today is the last chapter of Thessalonians 5. It is also about being ready, specifically being ready for Christ’s return. Paul wrote this first century letter to the church in Thessalonica to encourage them and give them assurance Jesus was really coming back. He started the chapter with a reminder that no one knows the exactly when Jesus will return and compared it to a thief. (Like working through the move-in checklist with Freddy, I’m not sure the opening of this letter gave the Thessalonian Christians much confidence.)
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).
Fortunately, after reminding them of this potentially scary reality, Paul goes on to encourage the church with practical reminders of how to prepare for Christ’s return. These reminders were relevant for the Thessalonian christians and are relevant for us today.
- Warn those who are idle and disruptive (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
- Encourage the disheartened (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
- Help the weak (1Thessalonians 5:14)
- Be patient with everyone (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
- Do what is good for each other (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
- Be joyful always (1 Thessalonians 5:16)
- Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- Be thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
- Validate teaching against the Bible (1 Thessalonians 5:20,21)
- Avoid evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22)
There is nothing we can do to earn salvation or earn God’s favor, so don’t let Paul’s reminder to the Thessalonians scare you or overwhelm you. Rather, use these simple reminders to help you take your focus off yourself and the things of this world. Use them to help you draw near to God and focus on emulating Christ. Then you will be ready!