Monday, April 21, 2008

Encourage One Another


Leviticus 16:1-19, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
I think 1 Thessalonians 4:18 offers a very nice summation to all three of these passages, as difficult as they may seem. “Therefore,” writes Paul, “encourage one another with these words.” Whether it is the way that Aaron was to offer sacrifices to God, the manner by which the resurrection is to take place, or the attitude one is to take in one’s prayer life, all of these passages should be understood as encouraging God’s people in their faithful living. If one reads these passages and comes away feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, he or she has missed the point. Yes, Aaron had to go through a number of steps as outlined in Leviticus 16, most of which arise from the sins of the people. But the point is that God welcomes Aaron into the divine presence, and remains committed to the relationship with the people of Israel. Yes, there are believers who have died before the return of Jesus. But this does not nullify the truth of the resurrection or of the coming kingdom which will be a glorious experience. Yes, there are those who make prayer a spectacle and who are considered respected members of the community. But God is not fooled by false piety and is attentive to the prayer of the humble. Be encouraged, Paul might say in each case, and know that God continues to be at work. Do what is right, do what God calls you to do, and let God take care of the rest, for God is truly working out the divine purpose.