1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 (NIV)
You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed — God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children among you.
Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
I included the first six verses of this passage to give the context for the second six, but since I am writing and praying about parenting, clearly I was struck when I came across this part of Paul’s letter among today’s suggested readings. Obviously the Bible and your average church teachings are rife with examples of the parent-child metaphor. As Christians we believe in God the Father almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth, and it pretty much flows from there.
Many a new parent familiar with the church will offer some variation of how the arrival of their baby shed a new light on what the love of God must be like for us, God’s children. There’s good reason for all this — it’s compelling stuff, and fairly universal. They say there are no atheists in foxholes. I’ve never been in a foxhole. But as the father of three, I suggest there’s no atheists in delivery rooms.
I like to think I’m fairly familiar with the Bible owing to my Presbyterian upbringing, religion minor in college and that one year as interim high school youth group leader, but in all honesty, I’ve only scratched the surface. So one of the exciting parts of this project is exposure to parts of the Bible I either never encountered or generally overlooked. I imagine I would get more out of it if I were doing straight study rather than looking for blogging direction, but either way it’s an appealing aspect.
All of which is to say I don’t ever recall reading the eleventh and twelfth verses of the second chapter of Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica. I’m glad I came across it so early in this project. It contains such simple, direct advice for a father looking to raise his children with and in the Lord. Encourage. Comfort. Urge them to live lives worthy of God. I like that so much I’m going to find a way to work it into the page template here so it appears on every post.
With that, I don’t really have too much to add. Sometimes the Word itself speaks so clearly that nothing more is needed. For me, this is one of those times. I had not been seeking a mission statement specifically, but this one found me. I wish the same luck for anyone who may be reading.
A prayer for May 2:
Lord, I thank you for the gift of my family. I thank you also for the opportunity to read and study your Word, and for the wisdom it provides. Please help me to focus on these simple goals in raising my children: To encourage them, to comfort them and to urge them to live lives worthy of you, the God who calls us all into your kingdom and glory. Amen.