“As if” is a catch phrase that most times express skepticism. When someone tells you something a bit too hard to believe, we sarcastically respond, “Yeah, right, as if—” “As if” is usually followed by, “like THAT’S going to happen.”
Apparently, the Thessalonians needed reassurance in their “living forward” lives. As we read this passage this morning, I think we all need reminding and reassuring that Jesus is indeed coming back some day “at the sound of the trumpet blast”, bursting into our mundane, routine lives with his glorious return to claim his own! How will we know? Oh, Friends, we’re going to KNOW it. ALL will know when Jesus arrives! Jesus assures us in the gospel writings. Whoa, now I’m really getting excited to imagine this happening—even today! I was going to pay bills but if Jesus is coming back today …
Instead of living sarcastic lives, thinking “as if—, yeah, right, like that’s going to happen”; what if we lived our lives ready for him, AS IF Jesus was coming today—like in the next few hours!
Seriously, what was your first thought when you read that last sentence? Let’s pause and think for a bit…as if He were right beside you. (Because He is.)
Paul reminds believers and followers of Jesus that we are God-taught, knowing how we should live with generous help from the Holy Spirit to live forward in His ways, because of God’s love, mercy and grace. I love that Paul calls each believer a gift of the God’s Holy Spirit! So, being a gift, we must live it in celebration of being one of His own. Paul tells us to “… keep on … please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance!”
Live AS IF Jesus was walking beside us, ahead of us, and behind us as well as in us. Live as if He was your Guide, Protector, Healer, Provider. Live with FORWARD thinking, being fully aware and assured that He is coming back! It is not our concern when. Our focus is to live as if He was coming in the next few hours. Start the music, begin the spirited dance! Jesus is coming! And Jesus is here now in Spirit!
How does knowing and really believing this change our agenda, our approach to this day, our thoughts for what concerns us right now?
1 Thessalonians 4, The Message
1-3 One final word, friends. We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance. You know the guidelines we laid out for you from the Master Jesus. God wants you to live a pure life.
Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity.
4-5 Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, not abusing it, as is so common among those who know nothing of God.
6-7 Don’t run roughshod over the concerns of your brothers and sisters. Their concerns are God’s concerns, and he will take care of them. We’ve warned you about this before. God hasn’t invited us into a disorderly, grungy life but into something holy and beautiful—as beautiful on the inside as the outside.
8 If you disregard this advice, you’re not offending your neighbors; you’re rejecting God, who is making you a gift of his Holy Spirit.
9-10 Regarding life together and getting along with each other, you don’t need me to tell you what to do. You’re God-taught in these matters. Just love one another! You’re already good at it; your friends all over the province of Macedonia are the evidence. Keep it up; get better and better at it.
11-12 Stay calm; mind your own business; do your own job. You’ve heard all this from us before, but a reminder never hurts. We want you living in a way that will command the respect of outsiders, not lying around sponging off your friends.
The Master’s Coming
13-14 And regarding the question, friends, that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried, we don’t want you in the dark any longer. First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word. Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus.
15-18 And then this: We can tell you with complete confidence—we have the Master’s word on it—that when the Master comes again to get us, those of us who are still alive will not get a jump on the dead and leave them behind. In actual fact, they’ll be ahead of us. The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast! He’ll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise—they’ll go first. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. Oh, we’ll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words.
ONE LAST “AS IF” THOUGHT—
As if the grave had the final say! No! All because of Jesus!
“you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word. Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus.”
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Can I get a hallelujah and amen?!
Help me to live forward, love more, love better, walk more closely, listen more, talk less, and live redeemed and assured. There’s no turning back now! Help me to live as if you’re arrival is in the next few minutes!
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen!