1 Thessalonians 4:1-12
“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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:10, TM)
Being the church is no job for sissies. We are to love friends, neighbors and strangers, and our fellow Christians in the congregation! It’s the assignment given the church at Thessalonica in the first century, and to us in this century. It isn’t easy. People in any church are a diverse group, none of whom are perfect, and some who are more imperfect than others! Personalities can clash. Some folks are just hard to love! It is important to remember that love as defined by the most-used New Testament word so translated, is not affection, warm feelings, or natural affinity for another. It is love that wills the best for another, and hangs in there with them in hopes that that best will come about. It is love that doesn’t come naturally, but has to be willed. It is the same love with which God loves us, which is good news, since God can also give us the ability to love others as He loves us. The people in the early Church were a very diverse lot, from the wealthy to slaves, with the same kinds of quirks and foibles that we see in ourselves today. Yet the church grew because people of the time could see how they loved each other. So it can be for our congregations, as well.
God of steadfast love. Give us the wisdom, the will and the ability, to not only love the stranger in our midst, but those whom we worship with each Sunday. Make our love for one another a witness to your love for all. Amen.
– Father Larry Parrish, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Falls City