Yesterday I wrote about 1 Thessalonians 2 & 3 and I said that both of those chapters gave a glimpse into the great relationship Paul had with this church. He loved them and they loved him. He spent most of those two chapters talking about how he missed them and how he hoped they could see each other again soon. Those two chapters certainly made clear the value Paul in church. One of love, encouragement and acceptance.
In these next two chapters (4 & 5), Paul gets down to business and talks more about accountability to living like Christ. In these two chapters Paul continues to encourage the church – but he is clear about how he wants them to act as followers of Christ. In chapter 4 Paul reminds them to be sanctified & sexually pure (4:3-8); to work hard and live a godly life (4:9-12); and grieve with hope (4:13-18). Then in chapter 5 he teaches them not to worry about when the return of Christ will be – but to be ready and to be found faithfully fulfilling the work of the church until that time comes.
What I love about these two chapters is how they pair so well with the previous two chapters. The church should be a place that loves and accepts one another as they are. But it should also be a place that calls one another to discipleship and becoming less like themselves and more like Christ. I think Paul does a beautiful job in these four chapters of doing just that. He shows his love and strong relationship with them – but also calls them to be better. We need more of that in the church today.