Watching my grandchild, I look forward to the stage when she’ll ask “why” 10 times, and then once more. She’ll be laying essential foundations for life.
Adults also ask “why.” During a person’s 50s and 60s, they sometimes ask it because they’ve experienced reversals and disappointments that challenge their assumptions. Since God wants everyone to become his adult children – not remain infant children – I’m confident God welcomes our questions.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:1–12, Paul urges new converts to “do more and more” in two domains. First, learn holiness in your sexual lives – reserve sex for marriage, treat your own and others’ bodies with respect, and don’t take advantage of anyone. Second, love your families and neighbours – keep calm, work responsibly and earn the respect of people outside the church.
I have two “why” questions: Why do these instructions matter? Why is this reading fitting for the Advent season?
Verse 1 addresses my first question. By living uprightly, we please God. God desires to reconcile the world and its people to himself. Whenever his children develop his character, their actions show what God is like so that others can know him too. This gives God pleasure.
A response to my second question lies in the verses that bracket today’s reading (3:13, 4:13–5:11). Not only is God giving us his Spirit now (4:8), but also Jesus is returning to be present with us. We need to live in ways that are consistent with who Jesus is, so that we’ll truly be “at home” with him when he returns.
—Andrew Dyck is professor of ministry studies with MB Seminary at Canadian Mennonite University and attends Westwood Community Church, Winnipeg.