Chip Stapleton Highland Presbyterian Church May 12th, 2020 Hunkered Down Devotions
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (VOICE)
Now, brothers and sisters, you don’t need further instruction from us or anyone else for that matter regarding how the seasons and times will play out. 2 That’s because you know the truth well enough. The day of the Lord will race onto the scene and surprise us like a thief in the night. 3 People will be going about their business chanting, “All is well! All is at peace!” and in the next moment, ruin and destruction will suddenly seize them as labor pains grip a woman about to give birth; for them there will be no escape. 4 My brothers and sisters, it will be different for you. You do not dwell in the darkness, so that day will not surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light. You are sons and daughters of the day. We are not created of night, nor are we owned by darkness. 6 So then let’s not give in to sleep or wander around in a stupor as some do, but let’s stay awake and in control. 7 You see, sleepers sleep through the night, and drunkards drink the night away; 8 but since we belong to the day, we should stay sober and in control, covered with a breastplate of faith and love and a helmet of the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us, His chosen, to face His wrath but to be the heirs of salvation through our Lord Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King, 10 who died for us. So regardless of whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. 11 So support one another. Keep building each other up as you have been doing.
Yesterday, if you read these devotions, you might remember that we talked about the belief, which was very widespread among the early Christians, that Jesus’ second coming was imminent. In fact, most of the first Christian believers were convinced that this would occur in their lifetimes.
We look at this belief that they held with confusion – how and why would they think that? This perspective is so different from the way that we think and live that it is hard, I think, for us to actually relate to this view.
Not only do we look at this belief with confusion, but we also, perhaps, have a bit of pity. They got it wrong. These titans of our faith, these trailblazers that paved a way for all of us that have followed in Christ’s church invested much in this belief and it simply wasn’t true.
If I am honest, that is always how I have thought about it – with a bit of pity for these believers that just ‘got it wrong’. But today, as I read this passage and thought about what it means to be a child of the light and to fight against the darkness, I began to view these early Christians, and their belief in a different light.
Some of you may know this, but I am a bit of a procrastinator. I have worked very hard over the years to counteract this tendency and no longer spend Saturday nights, up late trying to finish sermons and the like. I have done much to curb this predisposition and change my habits, but it is always a conscious effort – if I am not working on it intentionally, I am going to be procrastinating.
There are elements of this that I have embraced over the years. There is a saying, ‘deadlines produce results’, and I have always identified with that. For me, part of my procrastination has been about the motivation that comes from a deadline. When time is short, for some reason I am able to focus more fully, and work more effectively (or at least it feels like that.)
What does this have to do with our scripture passages? Well, this morning it occurred to me that, for the early church their belief in Christ’s imminent return served as a sort of motivating deadline for them. They may have been incorrect in their belief in the timing of Christ’s return, but their faith wasn’tmisplaced (Jesus is still Lord and will return in glory).
Their belief helped to motivate them consistently to live much more consistently as ‘children of the light.’ Paul tells the Thessalonians – ‘My brothers and sisters, it will be different for you. You do not dwell in the darkness, . . . . . 5 For you are all children of light. You are sons and daughters of the day. We are not created of night, nor are we owned by darkness. 6 So then let’s not give in to sleep or wander around in a stupor as some do, but let’s stay awake and in control.’
We are called to keep watch like those early Christians did. We are called to order our lives, to prepare our lives like Christ’s return is imminent, not because it necessarily is, but because it empowers us to live into who we truly are: children of light, sons and daughters of the day.
Friends, stay awake, don’t wait until tomorrow to begin to live into the call to be sons and daughters of the day, for Christ has called and created us to be children of light in all we do.
Sharing God’s Love,
Prayer: Dear God, help us to be the children of light that you have called us to be. Help us to live in a way that prepares of for your return and shares your light and love with others. Amen.