By Phil Wood
Considering the sermon by Pat Russell on November 8, 2020
Scripture Reading, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, 13-15
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us – whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter – asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not be until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
Pat's message yesterday morning was powerful and clear. She took aim at all the things that tend to make us unsettled in these days we're living through, things that can cut us loose from our moorings and set us adrift in uncertainty. And she asked two very important questions, questions that I don't want to just be forgotten, now that her sermon has been delivered and the recording is about to be added to the archives.
We wonder what could those sneaky republicans (democrats) be up to now? Or, what is the president up to with that angry tweet this morning? Or what is our future president up to, now that it's time for action? If we're not careful, our time and energy can get drawn along these paths of thought when all along, Pat said, we should be asking...
Key Question #1: "What is God up to?"
So, would you pause right now and give this question the serious prayer and honest contemplation it deserves? What is God up to, in the events going on around you, in your own heart? Are you standing firm and holding fast to the teachings passed along to you, or are you being drawn along other paths that are not of eternal consequence? Would it make a difference in your course of action if you asked this key question before responding to any event or statement that comes your way? It sure would for me.
Key Question #2: Who are you in Christ?
Apparently, God wanted me to hear and consider this question more deeply than I ever have, because he put the question before me twice yesterday morning; once in Pat's sermon, and once in our adult Sunday School lesson that followed the worship service via Zoom.
The enemy beckons us away from our identity in Christ. In our Sunday school lesson, author Chris Hodges said, "Don't go anywhere till you get that worked out...If we're not anchored in Christ, if we haven't drawn the line in the sand that we refuse to cross, then our hearts can easily become seduced by cultural gods and then cave to temptation. Our enemy can take us out of the race and rob us of the purpose, peace, and joy that God created us to experience."
To me, that just doubled down on what Pat said in her sermon, "If we don't remember what our identity is in Christ," she said, "we become unsettled, we become unsure, we become angry, we will resent, we will judge, we will become all the things that the Lord Jesus Christ and his kingdom is not about."
So, again I ask, will you now take a few moments to address this second question in your own heart with sincerity and honesty? Who are you in Christ?
Hint: Here are some answers suggested by Pat as spelled out in the above passage from 2 Thessalonians and elsewhere in Scripture.
You are a person who is loved by God no matter what.
You are chosen as first fruit, chosen to be one who lives out the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)
You are saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
You are a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, and that citizenship that supersedes your citizenship in this country and the world.
You are called so that you might share in the glory of the Lord Jesus.