By Robert Halsey Pine
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word…May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5 NRSV).
St. Paul was a great coach and mentor. He continues today through his inspired letters to the faithful. He was able to warn and be positive at the same time. His encouragement lifts us up today. Paul gives us courage to persevere by saying, “But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.” There is so much interference in our lives that works against our coming to the Lord as our source of strength.
Paul says that the Lord is faithful to us. How is it that we have such difficulty being faithful to him? It is more natural for a parent to be faithful to the child than it is for the child to be faithful to the parent. In Christening and infant Baptism the Christian community joins with the parents and Godparents and commits to raise the child in the faith. We support our children best through example and love.
Through Christ Jesus, God has given us the example and has demonstrated His love for us. God has given us the gift of life. Behaving like children, we don’t fully appreciate His gift. We take it for granted. As a loving parent God has not forsaken us. He has sent us His Son Jesus to instruct us in His ways. In order that we be protected from evil and forgiven for our sin, God has sacrificed His Son Jesus for us. All these gifts are ours to accept or reject.
Paul’s words to the Thessalonians and now to us are about the love and grace of God through Christ Jesus. We have been given “eternal comfort and good hope”. We are called as God’s children to accept this comfort to our hearts for strength in our “every good work and word”. If we listen to our Father through His Son and the Holy Spirit and accept His love and the “steadfastness of Christ,” we will glorify the Lord and take our place as His children in eternity.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.