Bible Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (NRSVUE)
1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! 4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; 5 for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. 6 So, then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober, 7 for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober and put on the breastplate of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
The people living in Thessalonica expected Jesus’ quick return. While it’s only two decades since his death and resurrection, the early followers do not expect to linger this long. They are weary of waiting and grow more anxious as they ponder the possibility that one of their loved ones could die before Jesus returns. Paul tries to encourage the Thessalonians, providing instructions on how to wait faithfully for Christ’s return.
The instructions sound simple: stay sober, wear faithfulness and love in such a way that it protects the body, place the hope of salvation on top of the head as though a helmet, and continue to encourage each other while building one another up.
Many of us wear a heavy coat while waiting for the bus in the winter. We wear paper glasses that never fit while waiting for our pupils to readjust after an optometrist exam. We wear a protective vest while waiting for the completion of an X-ray at the doctor’s office. These articles of clothing, while often not so comfortable, nevertheless protect us from the cold, the sun, or harmful rays.
But what do you wear while waiting for Jesus? How are you wearing faithfulness, love, and the hope of salvation?
If faithfulness signifies unwavering loyalty in practice, then imagine starting the day by putting on a desire for loyalty to God just as you put on your pants and shirt. Then allow your devotion to God to cover your body as you seek to make Christ shine through all that you say and do. Next put on love, allowing it to penetrate your interactions with the people in your home, school, work, or play. Finally, place hope on top of your head, assuring yourself that Christ loves you, forgives you, and will be with you always.
Dear Jesus, please help me get dressed and ready today. Amen.
By Donna Claycomb Sokol, The Upper Room Disciplines 2017, page 381.