2 Thess. 3:6-15
The church in Thessalonica – a model church in many ways, 1:3f.
There were some problems. See v11. Some of them ‘toadying up’ to the more well-to-do (Acts 17:5 hints at the cultural background).
Any vision for the church will need a way of dealing with problems like this:-
1. With authority, v6
Paul had already offered a milder admonition, 1 Thess 4:11f.
‘Stepping out of line’ – military terminology.
Apostolic authority means ‘in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ’: that is, with his own authority.
Today, this means putting ourselves under the authority of the Bible.
Did God invite the creation into existence?
Did God thunder from Mount Sinai with the ‘Ten Suggestions’?
Did the Lord Jesus say, “If you love me, consider taking my advice.”
2. With affection, v15
Remember how lovingly our Lord corrected Peter, Jn 21.
According to 1 Cor 13, love is many things: ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud… It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’
Do we love each other enough to help one other to obey God?
3. With integrity, vv7-9
Paul believed that Christian workers had the right to be supported financially (v9). But he had chosen to waive this right in his own case.
He wanted wanted to set an example, so that people not only took notice of his teaching, but also of his manner of life.
How many of us could say, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ?” (1 Cor 11:1)
We need Christian role models today: of married life, raising children, managing time, reading habits, dealing with conflict, coping with illness and disability, being single, financial management, Christian faithfulness at work.
4. With togetherness, vv6,14f
Paul did not envisage these problems being dealt with by dictatorial leaders. He expected the whole church to work together.
We are very individualistic – ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’
‘Do not associate with him,’ v14 – stop giving handouts; take a break from inviting them round for meals. If gentle admonition and positive encouragement don’t work, try a little shame.
Are we prepared to swim against the tide of popular opinion, of cultural norms? Cultural blindness:-
“Oh, where is the sea?”, the fishes cried,
As they swam the Atlantic waters through;
“We’ve heard of the sea and the ocean tide
And we long to gaze on its waters blue.”
Today, there are adverse cultural pressures on (a) young people; (b) those of retirement years. Will we help one another to resist these?
‘As for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is right,’ (v13). And that will including guiding, supporting, correcting those who may be getting it wrong. And doing so with authority, affection, integrity, and togetherness.
And bringing us nearer what a church should be.