Throughout this letter, and many of his other writings, Paul has been referring to the Christians as “brothers and sisters” because we are called to behave like family. This means loving one another – the kind of other-preferring love that Paul has been talking about throughout Thessalonians – and learning how to live together even when we disagree, holding each other accountable in love for the benefit of the whole body. Paul commands the church to “rejoice” at all times, to “pray” continually, and to “give thanks.” Each are closely related to God’s grace, because joy is the awareness of grace, prayer is the continual walking and talking with God by God’s grace, and to give thanks would be impossible without grace. In all of these things, it is the Gospel that sets us free from our fears in order to do what God has created and called us to do. The Gospel is always the answer! Jesus has defeated death and has welcomed in as adopted children, heirs of the kingdom of God. Though we, in our own power, are inadequate, God is beyond adequate to work in us and through us. Whether we believe the Gospel or not, our lives will be the evidence. Are we active participants in the family of God, allowing others close enough to actually hold us accountable? Is our joy, our prayer, and our thanksgiving defined by the constant faithfulness of God? And does the evidence of our lives point to a true, genuine, deep belief in the Gospel?
- 1 Thessalonians 5:12 - 28