READ : 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
We ask you . . . we urge you. (vv. 12, 14)
As he closes his letter Paul offers some instruction on how the church ought to operate. These directives illustrate how we experience the fullest expression of Christian living not as individuals but in community. As much as we focus on personal behavior and beliefs, the bigger picture of the Christian life only can happen within the body of Christ. Be peaceful, says Paul. Be patient, be good to each other. Don’t seek revenge. Help the weak. Encourage anyone who is disheartened. Pray, rejoice, give thanks. Don’t quench the Spirit. Hold onto good, reject evil.
If you assessed your faith community based on these norms, how would you say you’re doing? Have you experienced these things coming to fruition in your church in greater ways than you could ever experience on your own? Are there other “house rules” that guide your church for better or worse?
Scripture’s instructions help not just to keep people in line but to create an environment where all can flourish. I’m reminded of the African proverb, “If you want to walk fast, walk alone; but if you want to walk far, walk together.” Samuel Kobia, the first African to be elected General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, shared this in his acceptance speech in 2003. It set the tone for his and the Council’s work of ecumenical collaboration and dialogue in the following years.
May we all walk together in patience and joy!
Triune God, may we know oneness in community, through your Spirit’s power.