“The way we conceive the future sculpts the present, gives contour and tone to nearly every action and thought through the day. If our sense of future is weak, we live listlessly. Much emotional and mental illness and most suicides occur among men and women who feel that they ‘have no future.’
The Christian faith has always been characterized by a strong and focused sense of future, with belief in the Second Coming of Jesus as the most distinctive detail. From the day Jesus ascended into heaven, his followers lived in expectancy of his return. He told them he was coming back. They believed he was coming back. They continued to believe it. For Christians it is the most important thing to know and believe about the future.
The practical effect of this belief is to charge each moment of the present with hope. For if the future is dominated by the coming again of Jesus, there is little room left on the screen for projecting our anxieties and fantasies. It takes the clutter out of our lives. We’re far more free to respond spontaneously to the freedom of God.
All the same, the belief can be misconceived so that it results in paralyzing fear for some, shiftless indolence in others. Paul’s two letter to the Christians in Thessalonica, among much else, correct such debilitating misconceptions, prodding us to continue to live forward in taut and joyful expectancy for what God will do next in Jesus.”
–An Introduction to Paul’s letters to the churches in Thessalonica by Eugene Peterson
Are we ready to learn to live forward with convictions of steel upon Jesus, our Hope? Let’s begin…
1 Thessalonians 1, The Message
Convictions of Steel
I, Paul, together here with Silas and Timothy, send greetings to the church at Thessalonica, Christians assembled by God the Father and by the Master, Jesus Christ. God’s amazing grace be with you! God’s robust peace!
Convictions of Steel
2-5 Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.
5-6 You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master. Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great joy from the Holy Spirit!—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble.
7-10 Do you know that all over the provinces of both Macedonia and Achaia believers look up to you? The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore—you’re the message! People come up and tell us how you received us with open arms, how you deserted the dead idols of your old life so you could embrace and serve God, the true God. They marvel at how expectantly you await the arrival of his Son, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescued us from certain doom.
PAUSE, REFLECT, PRAY
How convicted am I? Right now, at this minute.
How much life clutter is in my way of living forward?
Who really knows who I believe and who I follow with conviction?
You get right to the point, right to the heart of our believing and behaviors. Your Holy Spirit convicts us to think more clearly, evaluating who we say we are, while reflecting over our recent behaviors. Your perfection forgiveness of our imperfective behavior, dear Jesus, allows us to start fresh each morning, with joyful expectations with the Hope of your return. We DO have a future. “All have sinned and fall short of your glory” in our walk, but you love and forgive all who believe. YOU are Life. YOU are my Hope now and forever.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen