“How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.” (1 Thessalonians 3:9-10, NRSV)
The Thessalonian Christians stuck out like a sore thumb.
They were not like anybody! In their world religion, business, and social position were all interconnected. Because they worshiped Jesus Christ, and not other gods, they were not considered a part of the “in” group. They were no longer accepted in society and were considered outcasts. They were rejected by most of society.
“And the Lord God commanded the [human], ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” (Genesis 2:16-17, NRSV)
Have you ever been told what NOT to do?
As a parent, I feel like I spend a ton of time telling my daughters not to do something. “Don’t throw your food on the floor.” “Don’t hit your sister.” “Don’t talk to people like that.” “Don’t run into the ocean.”
“When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:16)
The rains came. The waters rose. The ark floated. The sun appeared. The dove flew. The ark landed. Noah worshiped.
The rainbow appeared.
The story of Noah’s Ark is well known and familiar to us. I imagine the flood as a massive time-out for humanity. God the Parent had had enough. As an educator, whenever time-out is used, the general rule of thumb has always been one minute for each year of life. So a three-year-old, for example, would sit in time-out for three minutes.
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8, ESV)
I can still remember being a kid sitting in a wooden chair in Sunday school putting together a papercraft with the words, “God is Love” pasted across the bottom. In the midst of the broken crayons and chunks of dried glue, that simple phrase settled in my heart and mind.
When I got older, I would attend the church’s confirmation and youth group. It was through these experiences that I began to learn how much more complex the reality of one living and true God is.
“I believe,” the opening statement of the Apostles’ Creed says, “in God, the Father, the Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”
“Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.” (Matthew 14:13-14, NRSV)
When I was a kid I would drop by my grandparents’ home unannounced. I imagine at times they found it annoying, to say the least. The interruption was never seen as such. Or at least, it never felt like it. No matter what they were doing, they welcomed it.
Even into young adulthood when I would still drop by unannounced, there was always room at their table. It would not be uncommon for other family members to unexpectedly drop by. As more gathered around the table, conversation flowed freely, along with the coffee and tea.
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