This morning I began facilitating a study on 1 & 2 Thessalonians. I was (am) both excited and nervous as I think on the joy I receive from studying God's Word with friends and fellow sojourners as well as the humble and sober responsibility of leading such a group. And, always, after a hiatus, the teacher's chair is more than a little intimidating, adding to the aforementioned sober humility.
But despite a dark and rainy morning we gathered here in my living room: six friends, me, and my friend Leslie via Skype (how COOL is that?). We introduced ourselves, we discussed goals and motivations for our study, and we looked at the background and major theme of Paul's letters to the church in Thessalonica.
Both letters focus rather heavily on the hope of Christ's return. I shared with the group my experience as a young girl coming home from church after a revival meeting fully convinced that Jesus' return was imminent. Like soon. As in that very night. I was not comforted. In fact, as I sat in front of the window in my room watching the night sky, expecting the trumpet to sound and the skies to part at any minute, I was not only terrified, I was sad as I wistfully enumerated all that I would miss at the end of the world as we knew it. A boyfriend, prom, a wedding--the loss of these girlish delights consumed my dread. I didn't want Jesus to return, not at all, and I was ashamed. And scared.
We chuckle at those sorts of immature fears, but aren't we just the same? At the close of our study today we briefly discussed prevailing reactions to the thought of the end of the world. I'd daresay not many of us think of it much at all, Christian nor non-Christian, and if we do we either laugh it off or, much as I did as a girl, hope it's not any time soon because, well, we have things to do and to experience and to buy and to enjoy.
And yet the Bible tells us we are to live in light of this reality: Christ will return and take the redeemed with Him to glory. Paul will clearly assert that as believers this hope ought to motivate and encourage our day to day lives. How? What is the balance between my hope of what will come and my work I must do today? How can I be both heavenly minded and of earthly good?
These are the sorts of questions we will wrestle with as we devote ourselves to the diligent study of God's Word.
I'm looking forward to it!