1 Thessalonians 4
One thing that I believe Christians need to work on is balance.
I don’t mean to say we should compromise, or become “lukewarm”, as the term in Revelation uses. I am talking about our ability to be discerning of things both heavenly and earthly.
In this chapter, Paul addresses a group of church folks who had become concerned about the “dead in Christ” and those who had “fallen asleep.” They were preoccupied with the fate of their brothers and sisters — and they should be, for it brings about great sorrow to lose even one beloved.
Paul describes a great hope for these people, however, for with a shout and a trumpet blast, we will all be raised up and brought heavenward, beginning our fellowship with Christ forever.
This should be encouraging to us who feel they are facing constant trouble in this world, who stumble over various temptations, experience grief and despair, and wear great burdens all the way to death. Thank God a hope exists in Christ: all suffering will end, and we shall be rescued.
I believe that this perspective is well known among Christians, taught consistently in the church, but to a fault at times, for we have such a promise beyond this world that we can neglect those and which are still here.
This overemphasis on the things beyond this world results in forgoing preaching the gospel, service and addressing needs, speaking colloquially, working hard, and subsequently leads to ignoring and disobeying basic biblical principles, being wasteful and indulgent, planning poorly, being easily angered, and worshiping false idols unwittingly.
In short, modern church teaching has encouraged the Christian sub-culture to behave like small children who’ve had way too much sugar.
I believe the Christian landscape is saturated with grace-riding folks who shirk integrity and seek the next emotional high or feel-good inspirational message. You can see this phenomenon on your Facebook feed: a friend posting a text-picture with the pretty font and apt quasi-Christian adage, soon afterward sharing the edgy borderline-inappropriate video “just for laughs.”
Indeed we are flawed, but we must remember to use both propellers when flying the plane; we otherwise commence flying in circles or even spiraling to the ground.
Paul writes of exercising holiness in marriage, not taking advantage of one another, and doing common sense things to avoid being ignorant. Surely we’re set apart in Christ, but Paul seems to suggest behaving like normal folks, doing what we’re supposed to be doing, contrary to the radical and hyper-emotional version of believers that are present today.
We must walk and continue to do so, not with our eyes to the heavens and nose in the air, ignorant of our surroundings, and not as one with our head cast down to the ground, hopeless, shuffling our feet and spurning the world, but with our head level and eyes upon the horizon in expectation of the sunrise, coherent enough to walk circumspectly until the hour of His return.