Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fill Us With Your Love

Now may God himself, our Father, and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.  1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her.  So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head.  He went off and beheaded him in the prison.  He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl.  Mark 6:26-28a

Father, give us the wisdom to pray unceasingly so that we may listen to and genuinely hear the words you have for us today.  Jesus, work through us to continue to build up your people.  Holy Spirit, fill us with love so we can help others achieve their dreams. Amen.


How do we succeed?  Is it by stepping on the backs of others or by lifting them up? 

The readings give us another stark contrast between the norms of society as exhibited by the king and how the new emerging Christian community changes the outlook for success.

The King – pretending to be all powerful, promises his daughter her any wish.  When she makes a bold and lethal choice, the king could have shown some moral leadership.  Instead, he gave in to the situational pressure and the expectations of follow-through behavior to fulfill the “trappings” of his supposed power.  However, in showing what he thought was the power over the life and death of John, he really showed how powerless he was in the face of evil choices that controlled his behavior and the trap set for him by his wife.

The message in Thessalonica is the opposite of such peer pressure and envy.  The people of this Greek community hear from Paul that the way to success is NOT by climbing over the dead bodies of others.  Rather Christian success is accounted for by lifting up others so that we can ascend the ladder of the Lord with them, not over them.


Early in its history, I used to be fascinated by the show “Survivor.”  But in reality, this show gives us a very Herod-ian picture of life.  To succeed in the end, the “winner” actually has to put down challenges from others in the community until he stands alone. 

In Thessalonica, to win in the game of Biblical Survivor, the formula is to reassure (not reject) others.  To live if others stand firm, not if others are trampled.  Rather than envy, the disciples share joy and thanksgiving.  Rather than directing our lives for selfish pursuits, Paul will succeed if he pursues and assures the success of others, not their failure.

How can you promote the success of others?  When we are filled with love for others, not jealousy, or conceit, or pride, then we can show others the way to heaven on earth. 

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