Skip to content

Be There

November 6, 2017

“And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4: 17b-18).

Years ago I heard someone say that when he and his wife encouraged their children to keep the faith, they used a short-hand phrase: “Be there,” to remind them that when their earthly lives were ended, they would be reunited as a family in heaven, if they all kept the faith. Be there. That is the theme for this week’s Scripture lessons.[1]

Amos’s name means “burden-bearer.” His burden was that underneath the surface of a prosperous nation, Israel’s soul was rotting from within. Parallels have been drawn to the modern day decline of Western civilization, and in that respect, Amos’s warnings are eerily current. The people were calling for the Day of the Lord, or God’s ultimate judgment, yet it was one of those times when you should be careful about what you wish for: “Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him” (Amos 5: 18-24). God’s judgment will bring great joy to believers who will be reunited with God and their loved ones in the faith, but it will be a day of darkness for all others.

David continues the theme of the importance to seek God throughout our lives. If we seek him, he will direct you to the path he wants you to take. Stay on the path:
Hasten O God, to save me; come quickly Lord, to help me” (Psalm 70: 1).

The members of the church at Thessalonica wanted to know what would happen to them and to their fellow believers upon death. Paul told them that his teaching was “According to the Lord’s word” (1 Thessalonians 4: 15), meaning that it was information directly revealed to Paul by the Lord, or it was one of Jesus’ teachings that the apostles passed on to Paul.   He explained to them that all believers–those who have died and those still alive, at Jesus’ second coming–will be reunited with him forever, and never suffer or die again: “And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4: 17b-18). Paul challenges us to encourage each other with this promise.  Be there.

Hell is separation from the God who loves and cares for you.  If hell is the black hole devoid of light and love described by Amos, then heaven is the opposite.  I am publishing this blog from Hawaii, sometimes called paradise because of its natural beauty, sunshine, and gentle tradewinds. But heaven, the real paradise, is so much more. It is filled with the light of Christ that shines on all and permeates every cell of those present.  God’s visage casts no shadows. There is no illness or unhappiness. Its inhabitants never shed a tear. God’s light and love holds and warms each person gently and completely.  Be there.

During one of Jesus’ teachings, he tells the story of the ten bridesmaids who waited for the bridegroom. Five of them took extra oil but the other five did not. The girls had to wait a long time. When the bridegroom finally arrived, the young ladies went out to meet him, but the light from the lamps of the five who had not brought extra oil waned, and they prevailed upon the others for more oil. But there wasn’t enough oil to share, so the five who had not prepared were shut out. This parable asks the question: “What should we do while we are waiting for Christ?” The answer? Get about our daily lives and keep the faith.  Be there.

Don’t let your light go out. Every person is responsible for his or her own spiritual well-being.  Keep fueling your faith by maintaining open lines of communication with God, studying the Word, and using the opportunities that are presented to you to strengthen and to share your faith.  Don’t hide your light under a bushel.  Let the Christ light shine through you to those around you. Faith cannot be transferred from one person to another, but you can share your joy in Christ Jesus.  Follow Paul’s advice to encourage others.  Each person must commit to being there.  Make that commitment today and encourage others as well to be there.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost are Amos 5: 18-24; Psalm 70; 1 Thessalonians 4: 3-18; Matthew 25: 1-13.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: