Remember that old song from the '60's? I was not sure...had to look it up on Google. But, it is titled, "With a Little Help From My Friends" and was popularized by the Beatles. I was reminded of that chorus as I was reading this morning. (Of course, later on in the chorus, the writer extols the virtues of "getting high"....there the analogy breaks down!)
Today we will finish up the last chapter of 2 Thessalonians, chapter 3. This letter was written to encourage, commend and also to direct. In this last chapter, Paul addresses a persistent and unhelpful behavior on the part of some of the members of their young church.
All churches, young or old, have their "issues". Don't be fooled. Dr. Bob Jones, Jr., the chancellor of Bob Jones University said from the pulpit once, "If you find the perfect church, don't join it! You'll just mess it up!" Perhaps you have known Christian brothers and sisters who have hopped around from church to church because they discovered some "defect" in their local church. They kept "hopping" because they could not find the perfect church. That's because it doesn't exist!
In the days of the early Christian churches, the brothers and sisters had much more interaction than we typically do today. They shared many meals together throughout the week, supported one another, shared their possessions freely and worshipped practically every time they got together. It was more like a "commune" than our modern-day church model in America. They were extremely interdependent upon one another.
In Thessalonica, it seems that one or two of the members of that fellowship had decided to "freeload". Paul referred to this behavior as "unruliness born of idleness". Because these folks were not pulling their weight, they had too much free time on their hands. And, they used that free time to become busybodies, folks who kept others unsettled or agitated.
Paul pointed out that even he and his team had not behaved this way when visiting the young church, even though they could have been considered honored guests. Instead, Paul wanted to be an example to them, showing how to live in "community", by earning his own way. And, he did!
The remedy that Paul prescribed for such a situation was given in verses 10, 14 and 15 - - -
1. Don't enable. In other words, don't support such persons in their negative behaviors.
2. Admonish the wayward brothers/sisters, as opposed to kicking them out of the fellowship, with the hope and prayer that they would begin to act in accordance with the way they had been taught.
It is human nature to freeload; anyone who has ever had children knows that. Children must be forced to adopt good habits, not the other way around! It is also counterintuitive to confront someone about their un-Christ-like behaviors, whether you are a parent or a fellow believer. Instead, most of us pray that folks will "come to their senses" and just straighten up, right? Sometimes, though, they need a little help. And, that's okay. We help each other. Not a single one of us is perfect. If someone loves you, truly loves you, he or she will not just let you keep on rockin' along in some ungodly behavior.
A common pitfall is to have our own noses too high in the air when we "sally forth on our white steed" to correct a brother. Jesus warned of this when he spoke of us having a two-by-four plank in our own eye as we correct a fellow believer about a splinter in hers (Matthew 7:3). In the play our church is producing, one of the characters proclaims herself a "fruit inspector"; another character points out that, rather than being a fruit inspector, she is more of a "fruit bruiser" than anything else! Satan loves to play on our sinful pride by helping us to ignore our own sin while gleefully calling someone else on the carpet about theirs. So, we need to be very wary of that trap. You can't "walk resplendent" unless you walk in humility.
Of course, the best way is to examine our own hearts continually, and to be responsive to the Holy Spirit when He points out our OWN sins. If all of us did that, there would be many fewer problems in the Body. Sigh! Well, we can begin with ourselves. The "power of one". Revival has to start somewhere....might as well be with me.
This is how the peace of Jesus Christ reigns among us, His children (vs. 16). May it be so in our families, our workplaces, and especially in our churches. Paul's final word to this lovely group of Christ-followers: Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in everycircumstance
Lord Jesus, may Your peace be the hallmark of our Christian families and churches! Not a false peace, which allows dysfunction or misbehavior, but a true peace that is the result of loving each other. You do not leave us as You found us, wallowing in our sin. Instead, you remind us constantly of your grace, and how what you did on our behalf is so mind-blowingly amazing that it compels us to walk in Your holy way. Hallelujah! And, in Your blessed name, amen!