1 Thessalonians 4:8
Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
Paul writes to the Thessalonians church and gives a raft of instructions on how to live a life of Christian. At the beginning of this chapter Paul address issues to do with sexual morality. Then suddenly as if responding to a challenge from the congregation, he states the words in our text today. Mind the content of that human package!
It seems some people were challenging the authority of the Apostles and other leaders to give directions to the church. When leadership is challenged even their instructions and advice are challenged. Where leadership is challenged there either is an alternative leadership or anarchy. Many times those who challenge leadership are after the leadership or disintegration of the organization for their own interest. There is a difference between challenging leadership and challenging the wrongs of leadership. One focuses on the problem seeking to solve it, another one ignores the problem and seeks to destabilize the system.
When leadership is corrupt, we condemn corruption and not the office. If we condemn the office, even the next person replacing the corrupt leader will not be respected. When the office loses legitimacy, we sink into anarchy. When we condemn corruption and not the office, the corrupt person will by guilt repent or resign and leave, or those responsible will deal with the person. But our focus should be the corrupt act and not the person nor the office.
and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
When there are sharp disputes on Theological matters in a church, it could be genuine and those who have their point leave and form a new movement. In other times as Paul suggests, the aim is not genuine and all the challengers of authority want are to get followers. Followers who listen to them and do what they want. From the times of Moses to this day, even the most genuine authority has been challenged by people who act as if they are genuine reformists.
Moses was challenged by Dathan and Abiram. Moses was challenged by his own brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam. Jesus was challenged by religious leaders of His time. Many times we love the underdog. When the mainstream leader is challenged we sympathize with the challenger because the challenger is an underdog. Underdogs are not always right even if they win our sympathy. Many are mentally challenged although unnoticed, manic ego, power-hungry, irreverent, extremists, and actually agents of the evil one aiming to destabilize the church.
We need to rethink our attitude towards challengers of authority. We should move past their courage and interrogate their methods and intentions. We should scrutinize their bone of contention. We should question to understand and draw a conclusion without letting our love of the underdog blind us.
Paul in our text today warns the church of the Thessalonians that rejection of the instructions they gave is not a rejection of human beings. While indeed the Apostles and other leaders were human, but the instructions were of divine origin. Someone may have been emphasizing that the Apostles are human and should not be taken seriously, but Paul reminds them that while the package of the message is human, the content is divine. Mind the content of that human package!
(1) Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (2)Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
All authority must be obeyed in the Lord. In the Lord means to the extent to which the authority does not contradict or defy God, they must be obeyed. To resist authority even secular authority is to challenge God who established that authority. God, Himself will bring judgment against those who resist authority that is secular and has not defied anything God has said. Mind the content of that human package!
If secular authority is put in place by God, what about religious authority? If we risk punishment from God when we carelessly challenge secular authority, what would become of us if we keep challenging religious authority? It seems heroic and we gain underdog milage in challenging the establishment, but God cannot be fooled. God knows and reads our minds and their intentions. We must be keen lest we think we are challenging human beings yet we are calling the Almighty God to duel. Mind the content of that human package!
2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
The leaders we see are frail and weak. The leaders we see may not have much education. The leaders we see may have their weaknesses and failures. They are cheap jars of clay, but they are carrying a treasure. The treasure is God’s message to us. The package is cheap and delicate but the content is a treasure with an eternal value. Mind the content of that human package!
Let us handle our leaders with care. They are jars of clay but it is possible they have a treasure we need in our journey of life. They have weaknesses and we are no better. We speak and think as if we know better, but if we were placed in their shoes, we would most likely do nothing differently. It may be necessary to call them to account but we must do it respectfully in fear of God. Mind the content of that human package!
Dear God, teach us in our pride and bigotry to respect the leaders you have given us. Forgive us where in anger and overestimating ourselves we have challenged You our God as we challenged our leaders. Help us to mind the content of that human package, in Jesus’ name, Amen!
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