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It’s no secret that the 24 hours crush and rush of our technological age has worn many of us to a frazzle. Many seek a simpler way of life. Some to the extreme of trying “live off the grid” as much as possible. I’ve even heard it argued that living in cities is contrary to a sound Christian life and that total independence and self-sufficiency is the only way to go. We sort of forget that God Himself set the place of manifesting Himself under the Old Covenant in a city – Jerusalem to be exact. And that all those in Christ will one day dwell in the “new Jerusalem.” Still, there is something to be said for reckoning with the techno-urbanization which lays claim to us in unhealthy ways today. There is a Biblical “Simple Life” – but it might not look the way we think.
More of that as we ponder 2 Chronicles 26–28:21; Luke 8:16–21 and 1 Thessalonians 4:1–11 on today’s edition of Through the Word in 2020. I’m Reid Ferguson.
Our section in 1 Thessalonians today finds the Apostle in the midst of some closing exhortations to this interesting Church. A letter which contains no rebukes. And yet one which still exhorts to some action, encourages by telling them they are doing really well, and then urges them to capitalize on what they are doing well – and do more. It is a very upbeat approach.
In the process he sketches out a most amazing picture of foundational Christian living. The simple life. Assuming of course, that one already is – a Believer.
Under the umbrella of brotherly love – Paul sets down these four cornerstones of the “simple life” of the Christian.
1. Abstaining from sexual immorality. This is a STARTING point, not some high level of maturity. And Paul has much to say in this regard. Along with other things he notes in vss. 3-8 that failure to walk in purity is in fact to transgress and wrong the brethren. How little we consider this. That our individual walk in purity is directly connected to our responsibility toward one another in the Body of Christ. Secret sin is not unconnected sin. Because WE are all part of one another.
2. (vs. 11) Aspiring to live quietly. Seeking to be inwardly and outwardly tranquil. Not being strident, agitated, pugnacious or without inner stillness. How our present day news media and especially social media seem obsessed with stirring up and agitating the hearts and minds of viewers, listeners and readers. And this seems true both inside and outside the Church. In Paul’s next letter to this Church and in his 1st letter to Timothy he warns about “busybodies.” Being meddlesome, overcareful and officious. I wonder how many of us could say we actually aspire to live quietly in this way?
3. (11) Minding one’s OWN affairs. One can’t help but think how the flood of reality TV and gossip media are all focused on the exact opposite. Not to mention the gossip line in the Church itself. To stop and think that I have sins enough of my own to contend with, so as not to be minding the sins of others quite so much, except where we might really be of service to them. Not as prosecutors, but as deliverers.
4. (11) Working with your own hands. Self-supporting industriousness. Which he attaches to being part and parcel of our witness to the lost world – before “outsiders”. Christians unwilling to support themselves, do not bear sound witness to the World as it watches. There is to be grace and charity for those who cannot, and exhortation to action for those who can, but will or do not.
To live in love toward one another, requires these things. A pretty simple way of life. In or outside of the city.
Ponder that today.
God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.