An Advent Journey: Reflections for Weary Travelers — Day Two

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1 Thessalonians 4:1-18 , The Message

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.

Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, not abusing it, as is so common among those who know nothing of God.

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, unkempt life but into something holy and beautiful—as beautiful on the inside as the outside.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Wow, this is a big chunk! And filled with good advice, wise words, and a direct challenge to live a life that looks markedly different from what many in the world around us would call living. And what I particularly love about this translation is that opening bolded statement: make good choices like a dance partner makes good choices, not like a religious wonk does.

What a lovely way to put it! Choosing to live a ‘pure’ life does not have to be coated with the harsh restrictiveness of the purity culture. At all. Instead, making good choices — taking care of our bodies, honoring the bodies of others, thinking about others before moving into their space, choosing to stay calm, and to keep our noses out of others’ business — all of these choices are the result of living a life of love.

Dancing is an exercise that requires commitment, cooperation, and thoughtfulness. So does living a life in partnership with God and with others. The analogy holds!

Oh, Lord, I am so often a really lousy dance partner, aren’t I? I forget to follow your lead, I step on the toes of others, I get distracted by the crowd rather than focusing on the music. Help me to move in step with you, will you please? Help me to hear you singing the melody of love right into my ear.

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Comments

  1. Absolutely love the dance analogy, Diana. May we waltz in perfect step with God and with one another.
    Blessings!

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