Today’s Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:3
What are you looking forward to in life? What goals have you set and how are those goals affecting the way you life? Isn’t it amazing how our hopes and dreams determine the choices we make in life—determine the sacrifices we are willing to make—determine the way we spend our money and our time. We fix our eyes on a desired future and we invest ourselves toward that objective. Some people are looking forward to finishing school. Their lives are filled with hours of study and homework and reports. Because of the envisioned future, they discipline themselves toward that end. Some are anticipating a better job. Some are planning for retirement.
The future we anticipate—the hope we set before us—powerfully influences the way we live—the way we invest our time and energy—the way we conduct our lives. That’s why our attitude concerning the Coming of the Lord is so very important. In our text, Paul is explaining that event to the Christians at Thessalonica. He is clearing up misunderstandings and establishing them in truth—with two essential objectives. One is to bring comfort to those who have lost loved ones. The other is to inspire holiness and service to the Lord.
He begins in 1 Thess 4:13 with these words, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep…” “those who have fallen asleep” are the Christians who had died. He’s just using a common metaphor to express that—in the same way, we say a person “has passed away”. We mean they died but the idiom communicates it in a more sensitive way.
Because Jesus came back to life, now so will all believers. All Christians, including the living when Christ returns, will live with Christ forever. Therefore, we need not despair when loved ones die or world events take a tragic turn. God will turn our tragedies into triumphs, our poverty into riches, our pain into glory and our defeat into victory.
All the believers who have ever lived will stand reunited in the very presence of God. Safe and secure forever. As Paul comforts the Thessalonians with the promise of the resurrection, so we should be comforted and reassured by this great hope and promise.