Paul is eminently practical. We have one of many examples of his practical theology in what he shares with the church at Thessalonica, on how to deal with adversity. Paul recognized that the believers in Thessalonica were enduring suffering (2 Thess. 1:5) so provided the wisdom below.
13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 (NKJV)
He informed them that they, and by extension we, were:
- Chosen for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and a belief in the truth,
- Chosen to obtain the glory (character) of Jesus,
- Were to walk in obedience,
- His comfort and consolation are available to establish us in good words and actions.
In essence, Paul informed them that the difficulties they were going through were an opportunity for the glory (character) of Jesus to be worked into and revealed in their lives. This would come about if they were cooperating with the Spirit’s sanctifying work in their lives and if they continued to hold fast to the truth of the gospel. His summation and comfort was that good things awaited them, an everlasting rather than temporal consolation.
Practically in our current environment this means embracing a deep rooted commitment to speak the truth in love. It means not getting caught up in the swirling emotions of our times but to live out our faith. It means not asking what Jesus would do but seeing what Jesus is doing and coming into agreement with His purposes. I have found the need to check myself and saw someone else on social media acknowledging the same thing. We are in a highly emotionally charged time and need to lean into Jesus to respond with a right heart.
I have challenged some comments and supported others in my goal of demonstrating Jesus heart. I saw a post saying, “Christians worship and follow an innocent man of color who was killed by police officers.” While I can see the intent I see this as the type of characterization that needs to be challenged. The problems I see in it are that in trying to use it to combat racism it fails to acknowledge that Jesus was in fact the only truly innocent man who was ever killed. Further, he was of the same culture and race of those who wanted Him to put to death. We need to acknowledge the problem but address it with wisdom.
We are called to provide leadership to those around us and reveal Jesus no matter the circumstances. I know I need to thoughtfully weigh my comments and reactions in this hour and be very aware of how I am representing Jesus.