A Letter from Paul (and Silas and Tim) to the church of the Thessalonians, who worship God and follow Jesus.
I wish you all grace and peace. We always thank God for you. And we constantly pray for you. We remind God of your faithful work, your loving effort, and your untrammeled hope – all of it for Jesus’ sake. We know that God has chosen you, brothers and sisters, because the story of Jesus affected you, not just superficially, but so powerfully that you committed to it with everything you’ve got. And you remember how we proved ourselves among you.
You, like us and like Jesus, happily committed your whole selves to the mission, in spite of people’s turning against you. So you are now examples to the faithful in Macedonia and Achaia. You’ve spread the Jesus story, not just in Macedonia and Achaia, but all over the place. Everywhere we go, they know about your faith. We don’t need to tell them, because they tell us the whole story of how warmly you welcomed us and how you turned from meaningless pursuits to serve a real God, and to wait for Jesus who was raised from the dead, who is going to rescue us from impending doom.
How do you know that you’ve been chosen?
Paul suggests that you might know you’re chosen when something grabs onto you in such a compelling way that you commit to it with everything you’ve got. You don’t choose it. It chooses you.
Music, literature, sports, science, politics, sculpture, mathematics, painting, spelunking…. the list of things to do in the world is endless. You may wish you could do one thing or another. You may admire people who do them well. But if you ask the people who do it as virtuosos they will probably tell you that they can’t not do it. “That’s a funny story,” they’ll say when you ask them how they got into it. But it’s not a funny story at all. It’s as serious as it gets. This is the meaning of their life they’re talking about. For them not to do it is to be lost to certain doom.
So, what (or who) has chosen you?
What are you going to do about it?
Are you ready to be affected by it, “not just superficially, but so powerfully that you commit to it with everything you’ve got”?
Hint: If you don’t know and you’re not already doing it, you might ask yourself, what’s the thing you’re most afraid of. More than likely the thing that you are most powerfully called to and the thing you are most afraid of giving yourself over to are one and the same thing.