2 Thessalonians begins in much the same way as Paul’s first letter to the church (not a building or a place, but the “called out ones”) in Thessalonica: “Grace and peace to you” – God’s gift to us which we could never earn; nothing missing, nothing broken; wholeness. But Paul goes on to talk about justice and judgement. Too often we’re tempted to define justice ourselves. When we define justice, the line for punishment starts just behind us; with the people who we think are just a little bit worse than us. Surely I’ve done nothing to earn any kind of punishment. Thankfully, we are not the ones who define justice, because what we actually want is vengeance. But carrying out justice would be a weight far too heavy for us to bear. Paul writes that God will repay those who afflict others “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven,” which is to say “not you and not now.” It’s not ours to worry about, it’s not ours to carry out, and it’s not on our timeline. Instead, our righteousness is defined only within our relationship with Christ. It’s a relationship which, like any other healthy relationship, requires effort. It requires work on our part – not in order to earn what’s already been given but in response to the immeasurable gift God has given. All that God asks, commands, and instructs us is for the glory of Christ, and it is all possible because (and only because) God has sent the Spirit to dwell with us.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:1 - 12