The people living in Thessalonica expected Jesus’ quick return. While it’s only been two decades since his death and resurrection, the early followers do not expect to linger this long. They weary of waiting and grow more anxious as they ponder the possibility that one of their loved ones could die before Jesus returns. Paul tries to encourage the Thessalonians, providing instructions on how to wait faithfully for Christ’s return.
The instructions sound simple: stay sober, wear faithfulness and love in such a way that it protects the body, place the hope of salvation on top of the head as though a helmet, and continue to encourage each other while building one another up.
Many of us wear a heavy coat while waiting for the bus in the winter. We wear paper glasses that never fit while waiting for our pupils to readjust after an optometrist exam. We wear a protective vest while waiting for the completion of an x-ray at the doctor’s office. These articles of clothing, while often not so comfortable, nevertheless protect us from the cold, the sun, or harmful rays.
But what do you wear while waiting for Jesus? How are you wearing faithfulness, love, and the hope of salvation?
If faithfulness signifies unwavering loyalty in practice, then imagine starting the day by putting on a desire for loyalty to God just as you put on your pants and shirt. Then allow your devotion to God to cover your body as you seek to make Christ shine through all that you say and do. Next put on love, allowing it to penetrate your interactions with the people in your home, school, work, or play. Finally place hope on top of your head, assuring yourself that Christ loves you, forgives you, and will be with you always.
Dear Jesus, please help me get dressed and ready today. Amen.
In the book of Judges, we find a woman confidently leading a patriarchal nation as though it were an everyday occurrence. The psalm reminds us that the need for mercy reduces each and every one to a posture of outstretched hands and upturned eyes. To sing such a song on the way to worship, as was traditionally done, is to prepare the mind and heart for the possibility of whatever blessing may be given upon arrival. In First Thessalonians we overhear an apostle’s exhortation to live openly and expectantly regarding God’s future revelation—alert to the coming of Christ but also aware that Christ may come in sudden and unanticipated ways. Finally, a parable in Matthew runs counter to our instincts to safeguard that which we treasure, challenging us to consider the ways in which faithfulness involves a strange coupling of risk and reward.
• Read Judges 4:1-7. Reread the last paragraph of Monday’s meditation and reflect on the writer’s two questions.
• Read Psalm 123. How do you address God? Is God more “enthroned above” for you, or “right here in [your] midst”?
• Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. The writer states, “We stay awake each time we practice acts of love and mercy.” When have you felt divinely awakened by an act of love?
• Read Matthew 25:14-30. Identify ways you take risks in your life presently. Do any of these risks relate to living out your faith?
Respond by posting a prayer.