Google+ 01/25/13 Open Seating for Dinner!

2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

 

And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted

And also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven.

He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God

And on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus.

They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. When he comes on that day, he will receive glory from his holy people.

Praise from all who believe!

And this includes you, for you believed what we told you about him. 

 

We are still in the season of Epiphany and I am hoping that this devotion brings you a big one today!  Our Scripture today explains the essence of Christianity and embodies the very definition of the word "religion."  In its basic form, religion is simply a set of beliefs that help us relate to our fellow man.  Being a Christian means that we have chosen to believe in the Triune God, and have adopted a Christian set of beliefs that we use as the "selection" process in our lives for everything we do.  This also means that these Christian beliefs separate us from others that choose to believe something else.  The conclusion to professing this set of beliefs will be a certain amount of persecution from others that do not agree with our "religious" belief system.  This occurs because those that are lost without Christ, search to find a "religious" belief system that helps them interact with other people.  Because Christianity is the only "religion" that promises eternal life, simply because we accept that Jesus died for our sins, all other belief systems must "compete" with an inferior, ineffective, and conflicting system of beliefs.  Why in the world am I writing all of this?  Our Scripture lays out the reason.  Look as Paul tells the Thessalonians that God knows what is going on.  God sees the persecution that all Christians are going through, daily.  When Jesus comes back, our Scripture tells us that it will be with mighty angels and with fire.  The word "fire" in the Bible is always associated with cleansing and then most often with destruction.  In this case, it is going to be directed at those who do not know God and refuse to obey the Good News of Jesus Christ.  So God is going to save everyone because we are all equal?  Absolutely not, and do not be deceived.  Our Scripture just showed us the judgment that will be made by God (not by us).  The message gets worse for those that are disobedient and refuse to believe.  Paul promises them eternal separation from God.  Wow!  Don't miss this next point.  Paul says that if we have chosen a Christian set of "religious" beliefs, we are included in God's Holy people.  Paul states that we should rejoice in all that believe, and praise will come from all of us.  So, let's review something that I want you to live with, now and forever.  We are to separate ourselves from those that do not believe.  We are not supposed to judge them, but share the Gospel message with them and discern their response.  If they reject God's proposal, by thought, word, and deed,  they are the enemy.  We must pray for them from a distance.  Now for the most important point that we as Christians and local New Testament Churches seem to miss.  If we fully accept and obey the Good News of Jesus Christ, we are all one big, real, Family of God.  We should not exclude any believer, whether we like them or not!  All Christians come in what I call "packages."  All of us have individual personality traits that people love about us.  All of us have "package items" that make us who we are in Christ, but sometimes irritate others.  If you want the great things about people, you also must lovingly accept the irritating things!  It is all wrapped up in the wonderful package God created, called YOU!  This is where God tells us not to judge.  God tells us to embrace all sizes, shapes, ages, and colors, complete with all those little quirks we don't like.  God even gave us a way to deal with these quirks.  Jesus told a parable in Matthew about "removing the plank" from our own eye before we can "remove that plank" from our brother's eye.  Jesus is the great "clique breaker."  In the true Family of God, there is no room for exclusion.  Our exclusion, as Christians, should be from non-believers, not different kinds of believers!  So the next time you are inclined to "wear your feelings on your shoulders," and develop a conflict with your Christian brother, do what the Bible says.   Look at yourself first.  Then go to your brother and in love and kindness, solve YOUR problem.  You may very well find that you are the only one with a problem!  In God's family, there are no "reserved tables" so remove the sign from your "table" and allow all Christians to "dine" at your "table."  After all, Jesus overlooked your flaws and made "dinner reservations" for you at His table.  Shouldn't we have "open seating" for all Christians at that very same table?