My sister’s birthday was last week, and every year on her birthday I think about growing up with her. She is my only sibling. She is four years older and very much smarter. She is funny, gifted, and quite unique in her perspective on the world. In many ways we are polar opposites, but I am always grateful for the family I was raised in and the way my parents taught us how to negotiate the world in our formative years.
One memory that always stands out for me is a time when she and I were yelling and bickering to the point where our very patient mother lost her stuff. She charged into the living room, pulled us up from the floor where we had been arguing, and told us to face each other with our fists up. Then she told us to go ahead and start punching, with me going first. Of course I couldn’t bring myself to punch my sister in the face. Then it was my sister’s turn and she couldn’t punch me, either. The thought of physically hurting the other made both of us cry. My extremely wise mother knew that forcing us to confront how much we loved each other would leave a lasting mark…and it did.
In our passage today, Paul is making the same assumption. The people knew how to love each other….they were God-taught in getting along. But recent events in Thessalonica had stressed all of their relationships and they forgot themselves for a bit.
Kind of like being stressed out by a pandemic.
Kind of like making mask-wearing a political issue rather than a health issue.
Kind of like post-election America as we continue to wait to see who won.
1 Thessalonians 4 (The Message)
9-10 Regarding life together and getting along with each other, you don’t need me to tell you what to do. You’re God-taught in these matters. Just love one another! You’re already good at it; your friends all over the province of Macedonia are the evidence. Keep it up; get better and better at it.
Can you remember a time when current events and politics were NOT a part of your relationships with family and friends? Think hard. There once was a time when football, kids’ progress in school, travel, home improvement, new restaurants to try, and other benign subjects dominated our conversations. Can’t we please go back to those days?
11-12 Stay calm; mind your own business; do your own job. You’ve heard all this from us before, but a reminder never hurts. We want you living in a way that will command the respect of outsiders.
It’s time to get back to normal. It’s time for minding our own business. It’s time to live our lives in a way that makes people want to know Christ the way we know Christ.
Just love one another! Quit acting like you want to throw that punch. We’re better than this.