It all comes back to love…of a different kind
David Bahn-Reflections Podcast
Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more. 2 For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
3 God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. 4 Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor— 5 not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways. 6 Never harm or cheat a fellow believer in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before. 7 God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. 8 Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
9 But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another. 10 Indeed, you already show your love for all the believers throughout Macedonia. Even so, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you to love them even more.
11 Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. 12 Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others. – 1 Thessalonians 4:1-13 [NLT]
One of these is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?
Do you know this Sesame Street song? It’s a teaching tool. A bonus verse points to three children playing, with one of them doing his (her) own thing.
God calls us to be different from the world. In an attempt to be different, however, we sometimes substitute weirdness for difference. Some groups wear certain clothing. Some churches dictate hair length. Still others don’t allow any modern conveniences.
But the difference called for here is two-fold. In the world’s eyes both would seem weird. But the differences are intended to honor God and bless others. Rather than giving into wanton sexual proclivities, we are called to live sexually-pure lives. We’re not going along with the world’s over-sexualized inclinations and actions. This informs our decisions about the clothes we wear, the places we visit, the way we honor marriage, and our identity as men and women.
We are also to be different in the way we love one another. We use that term so casually. I love pizza, I say. That means I find it pleasurable to consume pizza. The world thinks of love in that same manner. But that’s not God’s definition of love. God’s love is perfectly shown in Jesus. He is patient, kind, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things (cf. 1 Corinthians 13).
Sometimes we are caricatured as prudes or sexually-stifled because we don’t go along with the world’s sexual revolution. Sometimes we may be taken advantage of because keep no record of wrongs (cf. 1 Corinthians 13). If we are doing what God calls us to do we will live differently from the world. Our love will look different. We will refrain from sexual sins. And for that we may be ridiculed. Others may take advantage of us. In those moments we may be reminded of Jesus’ life, suffering, and death.
And when we encounter people who are not living in that way, we can point them to Jesus, his love, sacrifice, resurrection and promise of forgiveness. That is a remarkably different kind of love, thanks be to God!