A Spirited Dance
25 August 2015
Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4; Psalm 47
One final word, friends. We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance. (1 Thessalonians 4:1 MSG)
One word that keeps jumping out at me as I read through these chapters of 1 Thessalonians is the word “friends.” This is not a textbook of religious instruction or a course manual. It’s a personal letter full of encouragement and practical instruction on how to handle pressure, problems, and persecution. This little letter also gives insight into the promised return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s passionate emphasis is that it’s not about just knowing the rules and the behavior guidelines and what to expect in the future. The Christian life isn’t just about knowing and following all the rules and guidelines and “getting it right.” It’s about how you live your faith in Christ, your life in the world, and your relationships with other Christ-followers.
The Pharisees in the Jesus stories had all the rules down pat. They lived their lives in a “dogged religious plod” and never experienced the joy of life in the Spirit. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of living the Christian life in a “dogged religious plod” ! I want to stay out of that trap, and when I drift into it, I want to get out as soon as I can!
Jesus is alive and present with me by his Holy Spirit, and it is his intent that my Christian life be a “living, spirited dance” of relationship with him and with my fellow-Christians, not a boring, rules-driven religious plod.
Father, I so easily drift from the life of the Spirit to the doggedly plodding existence of religion. Help me not to settle for the religious plod – not for a day or an hour. Holy Spirit, please draw me again and again, like a moth is drawn to a flame, into the living, spirited dance of relationship with Jesus and with my family of fellow Christ-followers! Amen!