2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17 (NRSV)
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Chapter 2As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, Verse 2not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.
Verse 3Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. Verse 4He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Verse 5Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you?
Verse 13But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. Verse 14For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 15So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.
Verse 16Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, Verse 17comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.
Banners on store-front churches that I pass announce, “End of Times Conference!” “Be ready for the end!” Rumors, wonderings, and false fears seem to abound. Fake news was also spreading among the believers in Thessalonica, fears that had been left behind—that Christ had already come again and they’d been left out of the promise of eternal life, as though it were a goal that they had to work to obtain, and not a gift already given in Jesus.
But the Apostle Paul will have none of it! He reminds them, and us, that the promise is true, because God in Christ has already made it a reality. Paul writes, “God chose you as the first fruits for salvation,”—meaning it’s a done deal given in our baptism into Christ! “And for this purpose he called you” For what purpose? To keep on living faithfully, doing everything in our power to override the fake news of doom and despair in our world and in our churches, with actions of Christ-like love, compassion, justice, cooperation, and inclusion.
God of promise, today give me faith and the determination to come alongside those who are least, lost, overlooked, and left out, with actions of love and acceptance, that they may also rest secure in your eternal and inclusive gifts of grace and love that are ours in Christ Jesus. Amen.