In the aftermath of Text Message, I’m still reading the bible out loud each day. It adds so much to the experience.
And I’ve been reading in a section of the New Testament I often overlook: I & II Thessalonians.
Anyway, in I Thessalonians 2, Paul writes urgently of his “hope … joy … crown … glory.” When you read that kind of language, you naturally assume he is speaking of his Lord.
Your assumptions are wrong. As were mine. Look at what actually happens — and read this part out loud:
17But, brothers, when we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan stopped us. 19For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
So in this setting at least, Paul’s glory and joy is the Thessalonian church with whom he is in relationship.
Even more, Paul longs for that day when he will stand alongside that church at the return of Jesus.
As a pastor, these words both indict and inspire.
The church I serve is not a “job.” It’s not a burden. It’s not trouble. It’s not even “fun” or “growing” or “exciting.”
It is glory and joy. Believe me, that changes how you view the church and the people in it.
Because one day I will appear before the throne of grace and the Lord will ask, “what did you do with this glory and joy during your season of leadership?”
All that just from reading the bible out loud.