Second Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2
Work On Today, Trust God With the Future
How does your faith help you in uncertain times?
1:11 We always pray for you. May God insure you are good enough when he calls you. And, may God fulfill every good intention you have and every act of faith you do with his power. 12 We pray that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ will spread through you and your good name will spread along with his. God's favor and the favor of our Lord Jesus Christ will allow this to happen!
2:1-2 Brothers and sisters, we ask you not to get upset about the time when Jesus will return and gather us with him. Do not let even an angel or word of mouth or a letter that some says is from us disturb you with the news that Jesus will come at any moment.
1:11 For that (purpose), we always pray for you, so that God might make you worthy of (his) call and, with power, fulfill every intention of goodness and act of faith, 12 that the name of our LORD JESUS CHRIST might be glorified in you, and you in HIM, by the grace of our God and (our) LORD JESUS CHRIST.
2:1 So, we ask you, brothers, concerning the (coming) presence of our LORD JESUS CHRIST and our coming together with him, 2 do not allow yourselves in the mind to be shaken, nor to be disturbed, neither by a spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as if through us, that the day of the Lord is present.
2:1 "the (coming) presence of our LORD JESUS" The Greek word for "coming presence" is "parousia," a theological term that is equivalent to the "End Time."
2:2 "do not allow yourselves in the mind to be shaken, nor to be disturbed" The two verbs in this clause are actually infinitives that have the force of an imperative. In other words, the author told his audience "don't get upset or let your brain get rattled" over the time schedule for the Second Coming. Evidently, some missionaries were preaching the immanent coming of the Lord; the author encouraged patience in this regard.
Who wrote 2 Thessalonians? There has been a intense debate over this question by scholars. Some claim Paul wrote it because the language between 1 Thessalonians (a letter with little dispute over the authorship) and 2 Thessalonians is so close in structure. But others claim this letter was written by someone in the second century AD over comments like the ones in 2:1-2. Paul taught the immanent return of the Lord. Yet, the text warned against fretting over such a view.
When we compare 1:11-12 with 2:1-2, an interesting theme emerges. The efforts of evangelization outweigh the concerns over the Second Coming. The author prayed for the good intentions and acts of faith of his readers with one goal in mind: the name of Jesus would be glorified. How would the intentions and actions of Christians glorify the name of the Lord? Through evangelization. In fact, giving glory to the divine name was equivalent to spreading his name. He prayed that his followers were so successful, their name would spread through their efforts. And they would receive glory through their evangelization.
Why do we worry over the future, when our concerns should be focused on our present efforts? God has his own timetable. And, he has given us a mission. Let's pour our energy into spreading the faith. And let's trust God with the rest.
How have you kept the faith, despite the news of wars and disasters? How has God helped you focus on present activities, despite pressure from the outside?