"I don’t think, friends, that I need to deal with the question of when all this is going to happen." (1 Thessalonians 5:1)
Let's think back on what we read on Friday. Paul was talking about what he expects to happen when Jesus returns. He told us that the dead and the living alike will be reunited with Jesus. He told us that meant we should save our tears and be ready for when Jesus comes back. And now he's finishing up these thoughts as we start out chapter five.
"You know as well as I that the day of the Master’s coming can’t be posted on our calendars. He won’t call ahead and make an appointment any more than a burglar would. About the time everybody’s walking around complacently, congratulating each other—'We’ve sure got it made! Now we can take it easy!'—suddenly everything will fall apart. It’s going to come as suddenly and inescapably as birth pangs to a pregnant woman." (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3)
I thought it was interesting that Paul compared Jesus returning to a burglar or a "thief in the night" as it says in other translations. When I think of a burglar, I think of a negative or bad person. I think darkness. And Jesus is associated with light, so why did Paul choose this comparison? Off to Google I pranced (it was a proverbial prance because I never moved off my chair). Do you know what I found? Jesus himself used this same description of his return in Matthew 24. Read his words here:
"So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected." (Matthew 24:42-44)
Interesting right? Jesus explains the reference himself here. Just like a burglar breaks in when no one is watching at night, so too will Jesus return to the earth when no one is watching. So in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3, Paul is reiterating what Jesus has already said while he was here on earth. No one will know when he's coming back. Jesus himself didn't even know the day or the time. He said this:
"However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows." (Matthew 24:36)
It seems like every year, someone claims that they've figured out the secret to the end of the world. They know the exact date and time that it's happening and we all need to get ready because they are definitely not wrong. Inevitably (obviously since we're reading this, right?), the day and time comes and goes. Nothing remarkable happens. And everyone sees it for what it was. A scam. A lie. A deterrent from the truth. Honestly, if Jesus himself didn't know when he'd be back while he was here, how would we figure it out?
Both Jesus and Paul are saying that we don't have to figure out the exact date and time. We don't need to know. We just need to be ready always. And we shouldn't be afraid for the time to come. Read Paul's thoughts on this:
"But friends, you’re not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this? You’re sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. So let’s not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let’s keep our eyes open and be smart. People sleep at night and get drunk at night. But not us! Since we’re creatures of Day, let’s act like it. Walk out into the daylight sober, dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of salvation." (1 Thessalonians 5:4-8)
Paul's words are so encouraging and so full of wisdom. He tells us to be ready for Jesus' return by living like children of the Light, not the dark. Light is like a metaphor here for God or Jesus, by the way. He advises us to wear our faith, our love, and our hope of salvation like clothing. Everyone can see your clothes. They aren't hidden. In fact, most people wear their clothes because they want them to be seen. They wear things that make them look better, feel better, or just make them comfortable. That's what our faith, love, and hope should be. They should be part of our every day wardrobe. They should be something that everyone sees the moment we walk in the room. Don't hide them. Make them obvious.
"God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him!" (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)
What a great reminder for this beautiful Monday morning! Jesus came to earth as a baby. He lived a blameless life. And he died on the cross. Three days later, he rose again giving all of his people HOPE. Hope that we could and would be reunited with him. He did it all for US. So whether we are already dead (if you're dead right now, I'd love to know how you're reading this) or still walking the earth, when we choose to follow God, we are automatically ALIVE with Him.
One final thought from Paul for today before we are done:
"So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it." (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
We live in community. No matter where you are, you are part of at least one community. The majority of us are part of many. For instance, I have a school community, a neighborhood community, a church community, a friend community, and a family community. Everywhere we go, we are part of a community. And we are meant to live this way in order to encourage one another and build one another up. Paul is urging us to utilize our positions within our communities to do exactly that.
Today, as we finish up this post, I pray that we all figure this one out. We learn how to live our lives showing huge amounts of faith, love, and hope wherever we go. I pray that when others see us, they also see Jesus because that is our ultimate goal as we walk around the earth- to be more and more like Jesus. Go and be blessed today; don't forget to also BE a blessing!