Too much zeal?

hands-workIn Monday’s editorial for Forthright Magazine, I made a short reference that “devoting oneself to the work of God should not make us dependent on the saints.” It was one of two possible explanations for 1Th 4.11, Paul’s instructions about working with one’s own hands. Here’s more on that idea.

Citing two sources, Victor Furnish finds it to be a “somewhat more plausible suggestion” that behind Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians to work with their own hands (1Th 4.11) lies the problem that “some believers were so caught up in a zeal to evangelize that they neglected to care for their own and their families’ needs” (First Thessalonians, Second Thessalonians, Abingdon NT Commentary, 2007, 98).

Would to God that we had that problem in the church today!

One thing that might militate against this proposal is that the church is always (is there an exception?) instructed in the New Testament to support those who teach and evangelize. Might not Paul have told the Thessalonians to get behind such people and provide for their needs? Still, it is an intriguing possibility, is it not?

• One basis of appeal that the prophet Jeremiah uses to urge Israel to repent is so that they might fulfill God’s purpose for them in the world. “Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world, and all people would come and praise my name” (Jer 4.2 NTL). Israel was not evangelistic, in the strict sense of the word, but God did intend for them to be a blessing to those around them (see his promise to Abram, Gen 12.1-3), by bringing the knowledge of God to the pagans. Is there a lesson for the church here?

• Posterous, I think I’ve said before, is shutting down April 30. We knew it was coming, but I’m still miffed that the owners sold out to Twitter. I considered it one of the coolest services out there. Now, two of the original creators, who parted ways with the sell-outs before the betrayal, have started, basically a recreation of their first effort. Except this one will have a financial base from the get-go, since they’ll charge $5 a month for up to 10 spaces/sites. Better yet, they’ve done an import path from Posterous. Worked like a charm. I’m pulling for their success.

I’ve already transferred Quick Bible Truths to it. Others will go that route as well. All the features are not yet available, but they’re working on them.

• In his “audience” earlier today, Mr. Francis of the Catholic Church notes correctly that God chose women to be the first witnesses of the resurrection. But he then seems to restrict unnecessarily an application from that truth: “This is beautiful, and this is the mission of women, of mothers and women, to give witness to their children and grandchildren that Christ is Risen! Mothers go forward with this witness!”

We shall be gracious and consider that he is giving an audience and not writing a treatise on the subject. But outside the meetings of the church, there seem to be few New-Testament restrictions on women in the work they do. Their witnessing, or teaching, should not be restricted to their children and grandchildren.

• I probably follow what happens in the Catholic Church a bit more closely than most, because Brazil has more Catholics than any other country, though not as many as 30 years ago. Most Brazilians, however, aren’t terribly aware of what happens in their own religion, since most are non-practicing or otherwise unengaged from its inner workings.

• Presbyterian-associated College of the Ozarks is “so concerned about mounting debt of college graduates in the United States that it no longer will take students who insist on taking out loans.” It has long been known as “Hard Work U” for their practice of having students work while they study. I’ve been a critic of our Christian colleges for burdening students down with loan debt. There are colleges that find other solutions, and ours need to be at the forefront of creative options. But they’re not. They’re giving athletes full scholarships while ministry students come out with tons of debt. Something is wrong here, folks.

• Last, a lighter subject, for some. Samoa Air now charges passengers according to weight — not just of baggage, but of the passengers’ own body weight. (The link is in Portuguese.) Practically, it might make sense, but what woman will now fly this airline? Maybe the Western truth of never asking a woman her weight doesn’t apply in the Pacific …

#1-thessalonians, #christian-colleges, #corollaries, #evangelism