In 1921 George Mallory was a part of a team of 9 people trying to be the first to scale Mt. Everest. The first attempt ended in failure when high winds turned the team around.
The second attempt, 1922, which included the new innovation of bottled oxygen allowed the team to reach a height of 27,000 feet in elevation, but an avalanche killed several people.
But, in 1924, despite high winds and deep snows, the team set out again to scale Mt. Everest, and it is said that George Mallory was asked, “Why? Why would you try to climb this mountain over and over?” Mallory responded, “Because it’s there.”
In a similar way, in 1 Thessalonians 5 we see a similar charge by the Apostle Paul exhorting the Thessalonians to respond like the people pictured, heading toward a summit, the Day of the Lord, Jesus’ return, but there is one significant difference between the Thessalonians and the people in this photograph.
The people in this photograph are friends, but the Thessalonians are family in Christ. In chapter 1 we see the illustration of a mother. In chapter 2 we see the illustration of a father, and throughout 1 Thessalonians we see the address “brothers and sisters in Christ” used 16 times, and this familial distinction gives us a tethering that is unlike any other as we make this journey together.
When you read the passage on your own there are really about 17 characteristics to draw out, but for the sake of time we are going to focus on one; Church Community.
1 Thessalonians 5:13-15, “13 Live in peace with one another. 14 We urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek what is good for one another and for all people.”
In verses 14-15 we see the importance of our relationships with one another. The local church isn’t just “pastoral authority.” We don’t want to be on an expedition where we just engage the leaders of the journey, but we must also work toward healthy relationships with the team as a whole.
That’s why in verse 14 Paul writes, “We urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the unruly.” The word “unruly” means insubordination, and insubordination isn’t just with pastoral authority, but also we can be insubordinate to one another, so that it leads to division, in fighting, gossip, slander, and this is a huge distraction to our journey together.
This is why in our church family we have our Yearly Focus that we rotate through each year, and one of them is pursuing healthy relationships with one another, because it is so easy to have unhealthy relationships in a local church family.
Listen to me, I am confident that these last 12-months have created opportunity for offense, conflict, and frustrations with one another. I am confident there have been posts on Facebook that have rubbed us the wrong way, I am sure comments from me on a Sunday morning have been annoying, we know isolation and separation is only going to increase misunderstanding.
And as a result we see confusion, isolation, offense, and then we start having thoughts like, “I am not sure if I belong with these people.” And the cohesion of our team begins to break down.
Therefore, God’s Word charges us in verse 13, “Live in peace with one another, encourage one another, help the weak, be patient with everyone, and seek what is good.”
Each of us would do well to consider the relational health of our team, friends, family, and church family, and ask the Lord to help us take steps toward healthy relationships with one another.