If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away---Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Standing Firm: 2 Thessalonians 2:3-17

*This lesson can also be found at: http://www.faithandliferesources.org/curriculum/abs/abs100718.html

The person who does not stand for something will fall for anything. I used to quote this old saying with a bit of theological self-assuredness and pride. If you can’t stand firm on the Bible, then you will probably end up believing whatever comes down the pike. As for “tradition,” that was particularly shaking ground upon which to stand. Though today I’m probably a lot more open to diverse perspectives on certain beliefs and have a greater appreciation for tradition, I am still convinced that there are some beliefs upon which we need to stand firm.

The writer of 2 Thessalonians admonishes believers to “stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us.” The traditions in this text are different from the “human traditions” that Jesus critiqued in his encounters with the Scribes in the Gospels. Jesus criticized the scribal traditions that became encrustations upon the Law encasing its life giving heart. The traditions referred to in 2 Thessalonians are basic Christian teachings handed down to the church. In the church tradition I grew up in, which was not understood as a “tradition,” traditions were human teachings as opposed to God’s inerrant teachings from the Bible. We would never stand firm on any tradition, only the Bible.

In our text “standing firm upon the tradition” was about holding fast to the basic Christian teachings that the Thessalonians had received from their teachers. There was no Bible per se at the time upon which to firmly stand. There were rather stories, traditions, core writings of the Hebrew people, the oral traditions and stories of Jesus, and the essentials of the gospel message. The writer admonishes: Stand firm on the essential message of Jesus!

We don’t have to hold fast to our particular interpretations of the End Times. We need not firmly clutch onto any one theory of the atonement. We don’t have to fight over our preferred form of worship. We can be open to other cultural expressions of the Christian faith than our own. Rather, stand firm upon the basic Christian teachings we have received and hang a little looser with the rest.

• What teachings do you “stand firm” upon?
• What teachings are you more open to viewing from different perspectives?
• What teachings do you feel the church needs to “take a stand” upon?

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