Torn Away but Not Torn Apart
When things are torn away we need not be torn apart.
As a child, my friend moved away. It was awful.
As a teen, my first real girlfriend dumped me. Heartbreak hurts.
As a man, I'll never forget watching them wheel my father's body out of his bedroom. That pain was indescribable.
Paul uses two words that come close. Torn away.
"But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person, not in heart, we endeavored more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face." 1 Thess 2:17
Whenever and however you may lose someone, you understand what Paul means by "torn away."
Things and people will be torn away, but Biblical faith establishes us so that we may not be torn apart. How so?
Paul uses an odd phrase for our digital culture, "face to face (2:17)." They needed more than a message. They needed a face, so Timothy went to them (3:1) so that he could "learn about your faith (3:5)."
The Holy Spirit's purpose in inspiring people to pen the Bible was not so that you would have some great verses to share on social media or to proof-text your latest rant. God's Word forms faith community. God's design is for it us to flesh it out together as Jesus' disciples face to face. Timothy established them as he exhorted them in the Word of God (3:2). Established faith is not a verse a day from a Bible app.
When life is torn away, we are not torn apart if we are established with God's people in God's Word.
The worst thing we can do in difficulty is to blame God's plan and withdraw from God's people. Prosperity has crept into our theology. We falsely believe that God's only purpose is for us to prosper. But in speaking of afflictions, Paul says,
We are destined for this. . . We kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.1 Thess 2:3,4
The Bible informs us that suffering is not a contradiction to our faith, but an expectation of our faith. Things may be torn away, but understanding God's truth keeps us from being torn apart.
Resistance to Temptation
For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain. 1 Thess. 3:5
The greatest threat to the Christian is not adversity, but apostasy. When things are torn away we want to run away. If we do, there is no gain; instead, it means it was all in vain. When there is a threat to our faith we must turn to THE faith. Faith over fear. Doctrine over emotion.
We should be established in God's Word so that when things are torn away we are not torn apart.
Read 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:5.
- What does this passage teach about the church?
- What does this passage teach about suffering?
- What does this passage teach about the importance of God's Word to the disciple of Christ?
Notice in 2:18 that Paul said, "Satan hindered us." I once traveled to Egypt and visited the persecuted church. The persecution there was evil, oppressive, and Satanic. It really convicted me that much of what we call suffering is just bad life management and everyday frustration. Since going to Egypt I have a hard time listening to a Christian say that they didn't make it to church on Sunday because Satan attacked, the microwave broke, and they didn't have anything for breakfast. That's not Satan attacking, that's just you wanting an excuse. STOP IT! By doing so you and I diminish what it really means to suffer, and we have some brothers and sisters who really suffer for Christ!
This week - stop being PETTY! Establish your faith in God's Word with God's people and see what Satan really begins to do.