Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Unauthorized Patience of the Elect: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 19, 2016

ppt-jpeg4One of the many callings of believers is to fully embrace and love difficult people who profess to be believers. I believe home fellowships are better equipped to do this than the institutional church by far. This culture is awash with people, many of whom are professing believers, who have personality disorders. These are people who have developed patterns and habits of thinking that cause them to be completely off the tracks socially. Since the government ran out of money and can no longer afford to institutionalize these people, they are among us. If they are older, some can be put in nursing homes where their social security will be confiscated in exchange for medicating them until they die.

Welcome to real believeism. We are not here for our best life now, we are here on assignment. We are ambassadors representing God’s kingdom. We are also literally God’s family. Thy brother may be bi-polar, ahhhmen. We are God’s elect. That doesn’t mean we were elected individually, it means God elected the means of salvation and the types of people he would primarily call. The sterilized institutional church and all of its aristocracy is an usurper—that is not what God elected. Certainly they are welcome if they want to come, but they were never the primary target in regard to what God elected.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose [elected] what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose [elected] what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose [elected] what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,31so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Look, I have been around church long enough to know that churchians don’t want to deal with the socially awkward, but I think the focus of Christ’s ministry is fairly obvious; He sought out the misfits of the world and all but completely ignored the religious academics of that time. The New Testament documents the indignation of the elitists accordingly. Come now, let’s think about this: Christianity is about conferences in Palm Springs hosted by celebrity pastors and $350.00 entry fees? And Caribbean Cruises hosted by celebrity pastors? Really? Have we lost our minds?

Church is where you get your ongoing salvation, and Christian living that glorifies God is barely on the radar screen. While the church mocks self-sufficiency, its worldly natural selection produces such. What better describes the present-day megachurch culture than, “We are rich and have need of nothing.” And don’t give me a load of crap regarding the institutional church’s token ministries for purposes of window dressing; we all know what its core constituency is. Those prone to lesser death are left to feed the ego of praise bands while those less disciplined are dumped out on the streets via ostracization for the world to deal with…while professing Christ.

So, we have a good reminder in 1Thessolonians 5:12-28 that believeism embraces the elect. That’s our calling. Like Christ, we are not looking to add Jeeesuuuus to mundane suburbia, we embrace difficult people with patience and wisdom. And it will take patience, active love, and good verbal judo. Let’s first take note of who this letter is written to; it is written to all Christians at large, as with all of God’s revelation. God writes letters addressed to mankind, and then religious academics claim that only they can properly interpret the letters. We need to stop buying into this silliness yesterday. Look at the obviousness of this:

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you…See that no one repays anyone evil for evil…I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.

First of all, obviously, this letter, like most from the apostles (note “we” throughout) is not written particularly to the leadership gifted to warn and protect God’s people from the gangrene of doctrinal error. It is written to the saints at large. Christ’s body is a unified body of gifts working together for a common cause with Him being the ONLY authority…period. That’s why God speaks to the whole family. The leaders and doctrinal discerners are merely gifted body parts, not authoritarians. In fact, note the tendency that Paul often addressed among believers at that time to not respect the ministers of the word. Also note that the word translated “over you” is the word “hymōn” which is usually translated “of you,” not “over you.” The word is simply the personal pronoun, “you.” The liberties taken by English translations that mostly come from the Reformers would be hilarious if not so scandalous in making this a case for elder authority. It’s just not there by any stretch of grammatical imagination. The Complete Jewish Bible probably captures a good sense of this verse:

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who are working hard among you, those who are guiding you in the Lord and confronting you in order to help you change.

Also note who has been charged with making sure things are executed correctly: “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil,” viz, EVERYONE is to “see” to it. This same pattern saturates the New Testament. EVERYONE is responsible to see that things are done correctly before Christ—this is not the particular role of elders. I could go on and on here, but I would add counseling to that list as well (Romans 15:14).

And who is charged with making sure this letter is read to all of the brothers? Answer: all of the brothers. Any questions?

The first type of believer Paul notes is the ataktos. They are generally disorganized and unproductive. They are unmotivated in general. Paul, in representing the apostles in this letter, says to noutheteó them. In other words, counsel them. We are to stir their gift up within them. Susan and I are presently working with a precious believer that is presently unmotivated due to some significant trials in her life. One particular trial is defining her whole life. Come to find out yesterday that she is an accomplished piano player. Guess who will soon be receiving a piano? This is how it works. This is our charge.

The second type (for lack of a better term) of believer that Paul addresses is the oligopsuchos—they are faint-hearted, and given to fear. We are to paramutheomai them. That is, we are to encourage them, and make them feel protected, because we do protect them. Home fellowships are ideal environments for these tendencies and needs to be revealed.

Thirdly, Paul says to antechó the asthenés. We are to “hold fast” and “cling to” those who are weak and sickly. But guess what? These will also be prone to lack of motivation and fear. We are to “hold fast” to them. We are to “cling to them.” These characteristics often abide together through cause and effect.

And it will take patience. These are difficult people to deal with as they lash out at the world in fear and confusion. If we are not careful, we will even find ourselves, repaying evil for evil instead of holding fast to them. This is where the rubber of believeism meets the road. This is where we walk in the footsteps of Christ.

This is our calling. This is what makes us the elect. This is family. This is the kingdom. This is our apostolic charge. Aristocracy is most welcome, but check your authority at the door. We have no Lord but Christ, and our only law is love.

paul

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