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If you put a twist on the age old line, ?Why did the chicken cross the road?? and instead ask, ?Why did the church cross the road?? the answers could look like this:

Mark Twain would have said, 'the news of its crossing has been greatly exaggerated.?

Emily Dickinson would have said, ?Because it could not stop for death.?

Charles Darwin could have said, ?It was the logical next step after coming down from the tree.?

Captain James T. Kirk of Star trek would have said, 'to boldly go where none has gone before.?

Aristotle would have said, 'to actualize its potential.?

The Ethiopian Eunuch from Acts 8 would have said, . . .

Text: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

 

If you put a twist on the age old line, ?Why did the chicken cross the road?? and instead ask, ?Why did the church cross the road?? the answers could look like this:   

Mark Twain would have said, 'the news of its crossing has been greatly exaggerated.?

Emily Dickinson would have said, ?Because it could not stop for death.?

Charles Darwin could have said, ?It was the logical next step after coming down from the tree.?

Captain James T. Kirk of Star trek would have said, 'to boldly go where none has gone before.?

Aristotle would have said, ?To actualize its potential.?

The Ethiopian Eunuch from Acts 8 would have said, 'so that someone could guide me for how else could I understand??

Moses would have said, ?If we don't cross over the Egyptians will destroy us?.

David the shepherd boy would have said, 'take five smooth stones and if you see any giant trucks coming towards you??

 

Jesus would have said, 'the Church must cross the road? To get YOU to the other side.?   

Why does the church seek to cross the road? and rivers? mountains? and oceans?  It is to Teach in the Name of Christ; to Model the character of Christ; and to Build up the body of Christ. We're going to look at a passage of Scripture where Paul is dealing with a handful of Christians who were going their own way. They thought Christ was coming again at any moment and were quitting their jobs, stirring up others to join them in their particular views and then were leaning on the charity of the church to support them because they had nothing to eat. That's the immediate context, underlying this is Paul's explanation of why he has done what he has done and how he has done it, or in simpler terms?Why the church crossed the road and came to the Thessalonians. Let's read the passage in 2 Thessalonians 3: 6-15.

 

I. The Church Crossed the Road to Teach in the Name of Christ.                                                                                                                               

The importance of teaching in the name of Christ is stressed in two ways:

 

a) How to address error. At first reading the direction of Paul can seem harsh because if someone is misunderstanding truth shouldn't we persevere with them and seek to bring them back to a sense of accord and direction. What Paul is saying to the rest of the church is, 'don't get tangled up in the same distraction, don't be influenced to quit your job too, to lean on the church to support you too, to discredit the gospel in all of this? keep yourself back from that. It doesn't mean that you have absolutely nothing to do with them or that some how you are to shun them. The directive is, 'don't get tangled up in the same issues, don't be influenced to error.? To those who were distracted he invites them to return to their responsibilities, to avoid spreading discord and to be willing to be admonished. He calls them to humility in that they would be willing to hear correction.

 

b) How to be steadfast.  The teaching to be steadfast is inferred in the reminder to hold to the 'traditions? which you have received. When Paul uses this term he is not thinking of how they do things, he is thinking of the truth, or doctrine, they have handed over to the Thessalonians in regard to the gospel of Christ. This is one of the main purposes of the church as they rightly represent the will of Christ and the commands of Christ to the world. It needs to do this in pre-evangelism works and in post evangelism works. The tendency for a church to go off the tracks with extreme beliefs or syncretism's from former beliefs is always there because of our sin nature and because of Satan's desire to promote schism and counterfeit. In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ we teach hope, in His name we teach faith and love, in His name there is life. In His name there is correction, reproof and training in righteousness. That's why the church crosses the road.

 

II. The Church Crosses the Road to Model the Character of Christ.         

It pretty much goes without saying that in order to model something you've got to be close enough for the people to see what it is you are modeling. That's the drift of what Paul is saying in verses 7,8,9. He says that the people we were reaching out to knew how we behaved, they saw our discipline, we were not a burden to them, we offered ourselves in the name of Christ. Paul could have expected financial support from the Thessalonian church but he chose not to ask for that because of what and Who he wanted to model. What he modeled was a sacrifice and servant-hood that pointed to Christ.

a)     Sacrifice ? they did church work by day and worked at a trade by night to pay their way. How does such sacrifice model the character of Christ? Well it certainly reminds us that everything Jesus did was an action of His will in obedience to the Father; it was an extravagant expense, meaning extraordinary, beyond what we could have asked for; it pointed to the truth of Who God is, it glorified God. These are the elements of sacrifice?will; expense; glory. Paul pointed to the sacrifice of Christ and called the Thessalonians to follow in the same way.

b)    Servant-hood ? it was a disciplined act that benefited another. Paul was burdened so as to benefit the church. Servant-hood will always have a burden aspect to it, what you do is not for your gain or comfort?it's for the other persons. That modeled the way Christ was burdened for the church, He gave Himself for her as a Suffering Servant. The burden of our sin was placed upon Him to our great benefit. He is our Servant King.

 

The great significance of modeling Christ is found not only in that others would follow the example set before them, but as they did so they would come to know the Lord Jesus Christ more and more. That is why the church crossed the road.

 

III. The Church Crosses the Road to Build Up the Body of Christ.

Did you know that more than half the bones in the human body are in your hands and feet, or that the surface area of your lungs is approximately the same size as a tennis court or that the speed of the air coming out of your mouth when you sneeze is about 105 kph? My guess is probably not, but these all represent what is at work in you. Your body is constantly engaged in good work, the work of life, and it needs to be nourished and refreshed as it does this work. The body of Christ, the church, also needs to be built up. Paul says in verse 13, ?But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.? There are many things that this refers to but let's just examine a couple of points.

 

1.     Don't wink at sin, not with one eye nor with two. In verse 14 we are told to take note of a rebellious attitude. To wink at sin is to make a joke of sin, to joke about being rebellious. To wink with both eyes is to ignore it altogether. In either case the body is not built up, it fact it will grow weary in some part. Like waste product building up it will begin to poison the body. To not associate with a person means that I don't pretend business as usual or that everything is just fine when it isn't. We do need to speak up to what is out of place or sinful. This too is why the church crossed the road, the work of building up the body of Christ.

2.     Look about for lost sheep. Don't regard Christians who have taken steps away from the church as an enemy, but rather show them that you care by pointing out the error. Lost sheep are just that, they may be just barely off the path or they may be deep in the woods, but they are in both cases lost and in both cases still sheep that belong to Christ. Look about for lost sheep.

 

By these two steps alone the body of Christ is built up, but it's awkward and tiring and possibly thankless work. So the instruction? 'do not grow weary of doing good? is a timely reminder and a courageous call.

 

Why did the church cross the road?  The answer to that question is starting to flood in to your mind the way is has always been in the mind of God. It will be to teach, to model and to build up? for now. It is the present commission of the church? for now. At the second coming of Christ the road and all who are on the other side of it will no longer be there to be reached. For now'the church crosses the road.

Rev. Spence Laycock pastors at Church of the Open Bible, Ponoka, Alberta, Canada.
www.churchoftheopenbible.ab.ca