The People We Ought to Be

“How should we then live?” Francis Schaeffer asked the question back in the mid ’70s, the 1970’s. “What sort of people ought you to be?” Peter asked that similar question back in the late ’60s, the ’60s. I’m noodling on an answer Paul provides to the Thessalonians in the early ’20s, the 2020’s.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

(2Thessalonians 2:16-17 ESV)

What kind of people ought we to be? How should we then live? With encouraged hearts constant in every good work and word.

Paul’s been talking about the end times. He’s confronted the fiction and cemented the facts in order to comfort the hearts of brothers and sisters who were “shaken in mind” and “alarmed” by teaching that “the day of the Lord” had already come (2:2). And then, after his short primer on the end times (2:3-12), he encourages them to put aside the distractions caused by speculations of what they don’t know and lean into the dynamics of the salvation they do know (2:13-15). Engage in sanctification, by the Spirit and by the word, he says. Stand firm, hold to the traditions you’ve been taught, “so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ”, he says. With comforted heart, be grounded in the things of God, for the glory of God, in every good work and word.

So many voices in our media saturated world trying to tell us what is or what is to be. More than enough news, fake news, and “who knew” stuff to shake the mind, alarm the soul, and distract the believer from being about what they believe. At some point, we need to quiet the cacophony vying for our attention and focus on the salvation set before us. (Morning devotions are helpful for that.)

Our hearts are to be comforted. It’s the Greek word parakaleo, the same word Jesus uses to describe the Holy Spirit in John 14:26. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter. The Helper. The One called to one’s side in order to admonish, to exhort, to console, to encourage, and to strengthen. What kind of people ought we to be? People who know the divine dynamic of the Spirit of God engaging with their spirit. Aware that they’ve not been left to navigate this life alone. People whose hearts are grounded, and constantly re-grounded in the comfort of the Comforter.

Our hearts are to be established. Stable, firm, constant, and fixed. Fixed on the good works God has prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10). Fixed on the good word God has given to guide us even as it reveals Him (Ps. 119:105). Amidst distraction, assaulted by the dissonance of this world with the world we were born again for, by God’s enabling we need to ground ourselves in what God wants us to know and what God wants us to do — whether that “to do” stuff is big stuff, or just the day-to-day stuff of seeking first the kingdom (Matt. 6:33) and living for the glory of God (1Cor. 10:31).

Not complicated. Also, not easy. But it’s at least part of how we should then live. It’s at the core of the sort of people we ought to be.

Only by His grace. Always for His glory.

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