“…though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict….But we were gentle among you like a nursing mother taking care of her own children….For you know how (like a father with his children) we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” 1st Thes 2:2, 7, 11
Nobody like Paul to offer such caring, comforting, and direct words. I noticed that Paul uses complementarian role language in this section: how a mother acts; how a father acts. Is this relevant?
Here we have the Thessalonians being told about Paul’s gang being “mistreated” at Philippi. Not just mistreated but shamefully mistreated. Whatever this mistreatment was it had a result of “boldness in our God.” I don’t think it was a cause and affect issue in as much it solidified convictions in and of the Gospel.
I have to face it for myself. When I get opposition to my Christianity (and a far way off of shameful mistreatment) I retreat, clam up, take a step back and review what I did, wonder if I did it wrong and what would I do otherwise—and usually it takes a while to get back into the saddle. Understandable for me because it indicates I was “putting on a show”, performing, and generally shifting into “christian” gear. Again it is understandable because we always have to start somewhere as a rookie. But-I shouldn’t be staying a rookie is what I need to think about.
There are characteristics of living the Gospel that Paul reveals in this passage: Gentleness like a nursing mother-this is a picture for all of us to emulate and difficult for guys. (Guys: don’t be difficult; the image is important for men). “Exhorting like a father”, individually, encouraging, charging with a vision: Walk in a manner worthy of God.
Both images are important to assimilate. All of us are prone to stumbling, breaking down, losing sight, being hurt, and shamefully mistreated. We comfort with the comfort of Christ. But just soothing ruffled feathers, etc. is not the end of showing love: We must firmly point to the mount of God; exhort to running the race; remembering the Gospel and laying once again our cares and burdens-completely surrendering to the King at the foot of the Cross. We are children of God for sure; but we remember we are disciples of the Great Lord of all.
We are called to His own Kingdom and Glory. I cannot forget.
Lord Jesus-One more reminder of how I am to put on You and not leave any avenue for the flesh. While pursuing being a disciple is difficult, it is the most gainfully exercise I can do. After all, Father, Your distinct purpose is to make me into the Image of the Son. And with that-step by step, piece by piece, I look to the prize at the End. I lean fully on Your Mercy and Grace for daily transformation. AMEN