1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation. – 1 Thessalonians 5:8 NLT
We don't know when Jesus will return, but we are to live in a constant state of readiness, as if it could happen at any time. Paul reminds his readers that the Lord's return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. But if they are always ready for His return, they won't be surprised. They were to be ready. They were to be on their guard, alert and clearheaded. As far as Paul was concerned, there was no question as to whether or not the Lord was going to return. It was a matter of when. And since no one knows the date or time of His return, the best plan is to live as if it could be today.
The Thessalonians were concerned about what was going to happen to those who had died prior to Christ's return. Paul assures them that there is nothing to worry about. "Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever" (1 Thessalonians 5:10 NLT). But those who remained alive needed to live with a constant mindset of preparedness. They needed to live in the light, not the darkness. As Paul had stated earlier, "God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives" (1 Thessalonians 3:7 NLT). The Thessalonians, like all believers in every age, were to live lives that pleased the Lord. They were to be holy, living distinctively different lives, set apart from the rest of the world. Their lives were to be characterized by love. They were to live in obedience to the Holy Spirit, not giving in to the desires of their own sinful flesh. While the rest of the world lived in ignorance and darkness, they were children of the light, having had their sins exposed and their salvation assured by placing their faith in Christ as their Savior. That faith was to act as a kind of armor, protecting them from the attacks of the enemy and allowing them to survive in hostile territory until the Lord returned. Their confidence in their own salvation would be like a helmet, protecting their minds from doubt and fear, and preventing them from giving in to the lies of the enemy. Their knowledge of and confidence in their salvation would protect them, providing assurance of their future, whether they were to die or live to see the day of the Lord's return. Death was not to be feared. And difficulties in this life were not to be a cause for doubt or disappointment. Christ died so that we might have eternal life. In his letter to the Christians in Rome, Paul writes, "And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death not life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39 NLT). The ultimate expression of God's love for us is the death of His Son in our place. And His death took place so that we might have eternal life, lived in perfect relationship with God the Father forever. It's assured. It's guaranteed. So we are to live as if it could happen any day.
Father, help me continue to learn to live in a state of readiness. Show me how to live in this life, but with my eyes on eternity. Don't let me fear death or become distracted by the cares of this life. Whether I die or live until Your Son returns, I will enjoy the same unbelievable future. My eternity is secured. My future is settled. I want to be alert and clearheaded, prepared and ready at all times. And I want to help others do the same. Amen.