Eternal Encouragement: Meeting the Just Jesus
It’s sometimes hard to picture the image of a loving and redeeming Heavenly Father – a God who is compassionate, who draws us into increasing mercy, acceptance, generosity and peace on one hand – whilst on the other hand trying to comprehend a God who condemns people and a God who sends judgement. For a secular society, this view of God can often seem regressive, outdated and backward, and ultimately, uninviting.
But how should we respond to suffering and persecution in our world? A world overrun with hatred, malice, injustice and intolerance – a world with ISIS, child soldiers, political instability and extreme poverty? Our world is a constant reminder that we are terrifyingly free to do what we want in this life, and if the choice is destruction and death, then God is loving enough to allow us this choice. But does evil win? Can everything in this age be redeemed by God? Will God allow evil to stand in His presence in the age to come?
We need teaching and language and pictures and metaphors that are strong and volatile enough to describe the very real experiences and consequences of the choices of rejecting Christ. 2 Thessalonians is a real letter to a church who is facing persecution of their new found faith, written to encourage and strengthen the resolve of the young church, and to reveal to them the mystery of the “Just Jesus”.
Listen with us, as Lead Pastor Stuart Starr examines this difficult, (and ultimately encouraging), passage.
2 Thessalonians 1
1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.
5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (ESV)