Don’t Wait for Paul

princess waiting
Photo credit: Etolane

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

You don’t need anyone telling you how to love each other: God has already taught you that, and you’ve shown your love for your fellow followers throughout Macedonia. We want you to continue in this way, and to live quietly, mind your own business, and do your work as we instructed. Behave yourselves around outsiders, and don’t beg.

Keep your head down and don’t do anything that would call attention to yourself. It’s good advice if you’re under fire and trying to wait things out. Which as we shall see in the rest of this chapter, is exactly Paul’s strategy.

But again, this is a major shift from what Jesus was doing. When Jesus said the kingdom is near, Jesus meant that as a call to engage in the world, not to withdraw. Similarly, Paul means “love for your fellow followers” primarily as financial support for mission churches. Jesus, on the other hand, advocated loving your enemies, which often meant “misbehaving” in the eyes of the general public. Healing on the sabbath. Staging a teach-in at the temple. Challenging people’s ideas about who is acceptable.

Paul’s strategy is to hunker down and wait for the end of the world, like the helpless princesses waiting for prince charming to come to their rescue. Compared to what Jesus was doing, that’s pretty easy. The trouble is that more than 2000 years on, much of the church is a rather bitter old maid, and it’s pretty clear nobody is coming to the rescue.

Jesus’ strategy is to take an active part in bringing about the end of the world as we know it. The good news: we don’t have to wait for the church to figure that out to do it.