I THESSALONIANS 2
THE CHURCH IS A FAMILY OF A LOVING GOD
In the very beginning of this book, Paul says that the church is in God. He goes on to show that if the church is in God, then God is in the church. This is like air. We are in the air and the air is in us. In other words, there is no life at all without air. Just so, there is no true church, i.e., family of God, if His Holy Spirit does not pervade and is not the guiding power of the church. But if God’s Holy Spirit is in the church, it is in the individual members of the church, for the church is not a corporate body in which God dwells. The church is the family of God’s children, and His Holy Spirit indwells each one who has accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
This is very significant in the present age of mega-churches and leaders whose major aim is church growth in numbers. When our emphasis is on the budget, the building and the size of the congregation, no room is left, nor time spent, on the true spiritual growth of every individual member. The inclusion of the Holy Spirit is a forgotten goal when our size and popularity are our prime concerns. Thus we have created large organizations, well-endowed and recognized, but not families made up of children of God who emphasize His presence in their daily lives and in their prime concerns.
In Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, he quotes God as saying, “I will pour out MY Spirit on all flesh.” Peter said they were witnessing that on that occasion. Then he told them to accept Jesus Christ and they would be given the great gift of the Holy Spirit, i.e., God’s Spirit dwelling in them.
However, His Holy Spirit is not a force that makes you do right. It is a present power that you have, to follow the path of righteousness. But you have to choose to listen to it and to do what it says, for God has given you the power of free choice. You can choose Him and His will, or you can choose your own self-centered ways and follow a different path. This path may look good to you and be popular with others, but it will not please God, and, having ignored His Holy Spirit’s guidance, you are on the road to perdition at the door of judgement, when this short life ends.
This is a central point in Paul’s opening statement, but he ends this wonderful chapter by placing the main emphasis on the fact that we do not have a God of anger and vengeance, but a God of love. I am afraid many preachers, who are proud of their soundness in the Gospel, forget that the Gospel is not a demanding fiat to threaten the one who does not keep all its rules. It is a pleading invitation from a loving God to change your life of self-service and sin, and come to your Father who loves you and wants you to live with Him in a Heaven He has prepared for you when the struggles of this life are over.
Our sermons should not be demanding rants and threats for all who do not obey the rules as we interpret them. They should be offers of love and peace and grace from a Father of love, and from a Son who died because of His love for us, to forgive our sins, even though we do not deserve His love and mercy. The choice is between pleasing yourself, and gaining the applause of the world, or ignoring the world’s hatred of righteousness, and pleasing the only One who offers you life eternal.