We are now in to the third month of the year 2011 and I am sure everyone is continuing in their New Years workout regimen; as such, you probably don't get sore anymore when you workout. Maybe when it is really intense you still get a little sore, right? What a feeling that is when you worked so hard that it hurts the next day and maybe even the day after that; you feel such a sense of accomplishment when your body aches from hard work.
Why do I mention that as a lead in to 2Thessalonians? Before I answer that, let me ask you a question? Do you think the messages from Paul's letters are for us, or are they just for the original recipients of the letters. After all, Paul is the apostle to the Gentiles....we are Gentiles. But, was that for then and this is now? Are we to sit idle and see what the plan is for us more sophisticated people in 2011? The stuff they did, said, and endured can't be for us....or can it?
I don't know of any secondary plan for us, do you? If there is no secondary plan for us, then we must be part of the original and perfect plan of God that has been documented by His apostles and preserved by God Himself for the first century and for us, right?
God wants us to be worthy of a certain calling:
2Thessalonians 1:11 Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power,
2Thessalonians 1:5 …. that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, ….
Jesus wants to be glorified in you and you in Him:
2Thessalonians 1:12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
In 12 verses Paul mentions being “worthy” twice, and bringing “glory” to Our King. I want to know! I want to know, how can I be counted worthy and bring glory to Him. Has the template changed? Did the Thessalonians have one way to bring Him glory and be considered worthy, but I am waiting for my way....or is our template the same?
IT IS THE SAME! So what is it? What was it Paul was boasting about them for?
2Thessalonians 1:4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for...
What is worthy of Paul's boast, God's stamp of worthiness and glory to the King?
2Thessalonians 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer;
Just as Paul told them twice in the previous letter, they are to grow more and more in the knowledge, service and love of God and they are doing it. They are to be bold and steadfast in the face of persecution and they are doing it. They are to suffer for the Kingdom and they are doing it. They are to be patient and joyous in all circumstances and they are doing it.
When Christians are doing “the stuff” it hurts. The harder you press on to finish the race, the more it will hurt. But it is a hurt that gives you that sense of accomplishment. Friends stop calling because your different and don't act and talk like you used to. Family avoid you because you might start talking about Jesus again. Kids are nervous around friends because Dad might start talking about Jesus. Friends on Facebook “hide” you because your always posting stuff about Jesus.
Doesn't that sound silly in light of the brutality our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ have faced in other parts of the world throughout history. Do we love Christ enough to face the “tenderfoot” persecution described above? If not, what will we do when the real persecution comes? If we can't be trusted with the Gospel now, how can we be trusted with It when the time comes when you will get imprisoned or killed for preaching it?
Jesus said, you are either with Me, or against Me:
Luke 11:23 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
There is a plan for those that are against Him and it doesn't end at death:
2Thessalonians 1:6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
Did you notice that pesky word “obey” in verse 8?