Read His Words Before Ours!
There’s nothing quite like having something taken away to make you realize how much you love that something. The idea of gathering together feels different for all of us around the globe in the wake of Covid-19.
Most churches closed their physical doors for a time. When they did re-open, masks and social distancing made us all acutely aware that gathering together had significantly changed. My dear friend in Scotland cannot even sing aloud with her church when they finally do gather in person.
The early church multiplied quickly, spreading across provinces and countries like wildfire. Jesus had come as God in the flesh to point our sin-wrecked hearts back to Him (Romans 5:6-11), He ascended to rule and reign with Father God at His right hand (Romans 8:34), and now He was building His other-worldly kingdom through His beloved ones, those who called out to Him as Savior. (Acts 2:41-47)
The work was the Lord’s.
The people were His.
The Church was His Beautiful Bride, His very great reward.
As precious as the early church was, they faced struggle, persecution, loss, and distance just like we do today.
Because Christ’s Church spans oceans, deserts, forests, rivers, and plains, it can be hard to remember we are all integrally connected to one another.
The sister in Nigeria who faces a government in disarray and ruled by those bent on destroying Christians is as much a part of me as the skin that covers my bones.
The brother in India who spends his days entering villages closed to the gospel in order to have even one conversation with a person of peace willing to hear about Jesus is as deeply intertwined with me as my lungs that inhale and exhale.
My best friend and her family live as far around the world as possible without beginning to return the other direction. While we grieve our distance, knowing I can’t watch her kids for a date night and she can’t sit on my couch eating late night ice cream, the Spirit of God binds us together in such sweet intimacy, it’s almost like we share the same air.
The Holy Spirit reminds one of us to pray specifically, fervently, for the other, and the Lord brings us together. My heart yearns for her physical arms and for flesh and blood fingers to wipe away tears, but in the Spirit of the God in whom we share, we are gathered together.
It’s with this gut-level yearning Paul draws the members of the Thessalonian church into his embracing words of encouragement. Though aching for their physical closeness, Paul intimately whispers of the richest of all secrets.
Soon, brothers and sisters, soon, we will all be gathered together with Jesus Christ Himself!
Soon, we will stand face to face with one another, every tribe, every nation, every race, and every language gathered together.
We will be one and that gathering will be flooded with the magnificent glory of the Lord Jesus. We will touch hands, hug shoulders, laugh and dance in freedom, and oh, we will worship, how we will worship as One Gloriously Beautiful Bride of Christ!
Soon, but not yet.
It’s not a secret thing, this gathering together with our Lord Jesus; all who draw breath will know, unmistakably, our King has indeed finally come to bring His people home.
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout,
with the archangel’s voice,
and with the trumpet of God,
and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are still alive, who are left,
will be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air,
and so we will always be with the Lord.”
(1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
Satan will be allowed to wreck his havoc in the now, tormenting souls and deceiving them into thinking they have it all, but they have nothing.
“He (Satan) opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits in God’s temple, proclaiming that he himself is God. (…) working every kind of miracle, both signs and wonders to serving the lie (…) with wicked deception among those who are perishing.” (2 Thessalonians 2:4, 9-10)
Those who believe Satan’s lies will perish because “they did not accept the love of the truth and so be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
In light of our coming reality of gathering in person,
Paul urges us to lean in to God’s Kingdom work.
Who do you know who “refuses to love the truth and so be saved?”
Are you actively praying for them and for an opportunity to share truth with them?
“…from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, so that you might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:14-15)
Would you consider yourself a “lover of truth”
that you might be “gathered together” when Jesus returns in glory?
What are the evidences of your claim?
God has a purposeful call on our lives to trust Him,
to be sanctified (made more like Him by the Holy Spirit) by Him,
to tell others about His Hope,
and to trust that, regardless of struggle and distance now,
one day, He will gather us all HOME!
Let’s be Ready for His Return!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!