A Tale of Two Churches
A great author once wrote: "Every happy family resembles one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." And so it is human nature to be fascinated by sagas of unhappy families in turmoil, and to be bored by stories of happy families living at peace with one another.
We have had occasion to reflect on this unfortunate human tendency in our recent adult studies of First and Second Corinthians, as contrasted with our current study of First Thessalonians, and our soon to begin study of Second Thessalonians. There was so much to chew on in the epistles to Corinth! We read of class conflict and one-upmanship, of Christian freedom being warped into immorality, of Paul himself being treated as a second-rate apostle by newcomers who sought to lead the Corinthian church in unknown directions. There was so much wisdom in Paul's admonitions, exhortations, and tough love.
A fascinating saga of an unhappy family indeed.
Then there was the little church Paul founded in Thessalonica. Persecuted, yes, uncertain at times, yes, and just as much in need of pastoral counselling, up-building and love as any congregation before or since. But not a problem child like the church in Corinth.
And so we run a danger of missing the treasures contained in Paul's epistles to the Thessalonians by glossing over them as love letters. Yet, if we check ourselves and look deeper, we find just as much depth, just as much wisdom in these books as we find in the soaring poetry of First Corinthians 13 or in Paul's white-hot sarcasm in Second Corinthians 11.
The happy family, it turns out, has a wonderful story to tell.
The Adult Bible Study is wrapping up its study of First Thessalonians and will take a brief summer break. The starting date for the study of Second Thessalonians will be announced in July. Join us!