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Saturday, October 24, 2020
Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Thessalonians 2:1–8
You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us. (NRSV)
In this passage, Paul writes to us like a new president of the Thessalonica church, put in his stead by the CEO, Jesus Christ, praising the new Thessalonians as good employees of the church. I say this facetiously, but I do mean it in a way as I think more diligently about what Paul is employing us to do—after hardship, after difficulty, after not being received well in Philippi.
Paul is acknowledging what came before and affirming for us that this new way of working, this new way of living, is not a trick. That in his appeal we are not trying to please people: we are looking for the long-term goal of working for and with God. No flattery, no cover-up—like children, honest, fresh, sometimes inadvertently painful. Instead, the new senior leadership is working alongside us, like a good manager who shows that they know how to do the jobs and tasks of everyone on their team but are elevated to a position of power to lead the way of new processes and to hold a vision for us to move forward—together. The Thessalonians were energetic and empowering in the belief that Jesus Christ would be returning. They shared God’s love, showing us that God’s love is like a mother’s, warm and enveloping, attentive to the needs of us children, while showing that they are again also like children, meaning they also have things to learn that we can learn from each other.
In this way, upper management is sharing with us and asking for a reciprocal relationship in the way we live our daily lives, in the way we do our daily work, in the way we respect each other—because what are our lives but the things we do every day? The work we do every day?
I can attest to worrying about this. My current upper management at my actual job leaves much to be desired, but is that not what faith is? Believing in things unseen, holding a vision for the future, knowing that Christ will come again, that Christ is here again—that we make Christ be here again in how we conduct ourselves. We are also the upper management in our own lives, in our faith journey with Christ. Let’s invite more leaders to join us. I think we all have lots to learn.
Dear Lord and Savior, CEO Jesus Christ, help us to live each moment of each day remembering that we are simultaneously like children—open, fresh, free—but also like mothers—warm and nurturing—and yet still like CEOs of our own lives, holding a vision, moving things forward, making difficult decisions. Help us to keep learning, to keep healing, to keep needing each other, to keep waiting for each other, and to keep seeing each other—to keep seeing you in each other. Amen.
Written by Jessica Wang, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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