kingdom living

SCRIPTURE: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12

OBSERVATION/APPLICATION:

  1. God’s plan is to restore His creation (His world, His Kingdom) that was thrust into chaos and misery by human rebellion. Jesus is the promised messiah who comes to accomplish this. To accept Jesus is to accept His role, as well as His way, to submit to His will as our sovereign. Jesus restores the kingdom not by military or political revolution but by character reformation, transforming selfish individuals to selfless, God and neighbouring loving servants. The Thessalonians accepted this message, and despite ridicule and persecution, persevered in live God’s way in this mixed up world. This is why Paul is so ‘pumped’ about them.
  2. The Thessalonians were suffering because they willingly submitted to Jesus and to living His way, the way of the kingdom of God, the way of the cross – of humility, love, generosity, compassion, self-sacrifice, patience, etc. This was why they were being persecuted, because the way of Jesus seems stupid and weak to people to love and live for themselves.
  3. Paul assures them that Jesus will one day come back and establish God’s kingdom fully. While we wait we must persevere living with/for and like Him, but when He comes back, He will count those who lived this way worthy of entering the fully restored kingdom.
  4. When Jesus comes back, He will give those who rejected God and His way what they wanted – eternity without God, an everlasting destruction. ‘Hell’ is not a cruel, unusual punishment, it is God ultimately giving people over to what they wanted.  ‘Hell’ is nothing else but life without God, without God’s restrictive laws, without God’s protective care – forever and ever.
  5. This is God’s justice. People get what they desire. Those who seek to do good, will inherit what is good. Those who cause trouble will inherit trouble [6-7]. Those who seek God will find Him for eternity. Those who reject God will shut out from His presence and power for eternity [9].
  6. Until the final judgment, God through Jesus is communicating all the time, warning us, showing us, appealing to us… to come to our senses. All the circumstances of life (including sickness, high gas prices, war, unemployment, marital breakdown, persecution, as well as instances of beauty and joy) are God’s ways of getting our attention, to show us our need for Him.
  7. This letter is Paul’s encouragement to the Thessalonian believers on how to live in/for the kingdom of God while it is not yet fully realized, in this time of waiting before Jesus returns and the citizens  of the kingdom of darkness torment and trouble them. He prays for them, and urges them to stand firm, and keep on doing what is good.

PRAYER:
Lord, as I read this I realize that I do not think much about what it means to live in Your kingdom here and now, and how this will put me at odds with my neighbours who see selfless living as weak and stupid. Show me how to live a life that is worthy of Your coming kingdom.

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