Relating to One Another
Relating to one another in fellowship and accountability helps us stay on track and sharpens us for his purposes …
Paul apparently held a special affinity in his heart for the believers in Thessalonica, claiming that, “just as a nursing mother cares for her children,” he in the same way cared for them (1TH 2:7). He made continual mention of them in his prayers (ITH 1:2), his labor unto them was counted a joy (ITH 2:9), and the believers in Thessalonica had responded to all of Paul’s help with incredible generosity and service—becoming an example to all the Christians in Macedonia and Achaia (1TH 1:7).
In many ways this network of churches deeply blessed Paul, but one false lie had threatened to creep into their midst. Many were claiming that Christ had already returned. This caused the believers an incredible amount of stress because they thought that the day they hoped for, waited for, and anticipated had already passed them by. Paul, of course, goes on in the remainder of his letters to dispel this rumor, and he ends in chapter 5 by charging them to “encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” In their waiting for the Lord to come back, Paul urges them to spend their time, not in drunkenness (vs. 5), but in putting on sober “faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet” (vs. 8).
When we are waiting for something, why is it our tendency to get distracted in addiction, and get pulled into isolation rather than community? Paul wisely sees this reality. He knows that we all get caught up in temporary pleasures when the satisfaction we’re waiting for is temporarily delayed. Waiting and isolation are at the heart of addiction. Our ultimate satisfaction is delayed in anticipating Christ’s final redemption of all things, and instead of arming ourselves with patience, faith, and love, we reach into and out for the cookie jar, the bong, the bottle, or the numerous time and morality wasters found on the Internet.
Paul’s encouragement, and the only help to get through addiction, is not to isolate and indulge, but to find community in Christ’s body and to gorge ourselves on honest, truthful, and open fellowship.
*For further reading in the Bible: 1st Thessalonians 5:4 – 5:11; Ephesians 5:1 – 5:20; Hebrews 3:7 – 3:14; James 5:13 – 5:16
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