Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s reading is 2nd Thessalonians 2:14-15 where the Apostle Paul writes,    

14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.


Things seem wobbly today, don’t they? It seems that too many people are heeding the siren call of “change.” They often don’t even ask, “Is this change good for us or bad for us?” I’ve heard it said, and even taught, that if we merely tear down the present structures and replace them with egalitarian, socialist structures, then human beings would live virtuous, even perfect lives in love and service to others. That’s not only wrong, it’s also incredibly naïve. While it is true that humanity has “inherent dignity” due to our creation by God, it is also true and painfully obvious that our rebellion and sin have dramatically changed all that. Humanity’s record is not predominantly one of love and care, but of violence and destruction. Humanity’s history not only reveals what the worst among us have done, it also records that the so-called “best of us” have done incredibly evil things to others in the name of our own survival or self-interest. A true picture of humanity’s condition without God is reflected by the wise author of Ecclesiastes in verses 14-15 of chapter 1:

I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted.

It is a sobering fact that the “wiser” we get, the more we see our shortcoming, inabilities, and sins. Thank God there is an enduring kingdom with a life-saving message that exists amidst our self-destructive and sinful realities.

That’s why Paul tells the Thessalonians to “stand firm.” They were well aware of the reality that this is world is passing away, yet they still had a mission and ministry in the midst of it. Paul reminds them and us that by faith in Christ we have received eternal life and salvation as a gift from God. That Good News has been delivered to us through the truth of God’s Word, the Gospel truth that saves. That truth calls for us to “stand firm” and to hold on because that truth saves, transforms, and holds us, especially when things get crazy in this world. That truth also sets us apart to be Christ’s people for others by the power of His Spirit.

I heard about an incredible story of a pilot who literally learned the truth of the phrase, “Hold on for dear life.” Back in 1987 on a commuter flight from Portland, Maine to Boston, the pilot, Henry Dempsey, heard an unusual noise near the rear of the plane. Dempsey turned the controls over to the co-pilot and went back to check it out. As he reached the tail section, he realized that the noise was caused by the improper latching of the rear door. Just then, the plane hit an air pocket and Dempsey was tossed against that rear door, causing it to open and to suck him out of the plane.

The co-pilot saw a red light indicating an open door on the plane and immediately radioed the nearest airport requesting permission for an emergency landing. He reported that the pilot had fallen out of the plane and wanted a helicopter to search the area. But after the plane landed, the ground crew found Dempsey holding on to the outdoor ladder of the aircraft. Somehow he had caught the ladder. He then held on for ten minutes as the plane flew 200mph, descending from an altitude of 4000 feet, and survived the landing with the runway merely inches away. According to news reports, it took airport personnel several minutes to pry Dempsey’s fingers off of the ladder. That ladder saved his life. That ladder was worthy of his tenacious grip!

In a comparable way, Paul is telling us that especially when it really matters, we are “set apart people” who hold on to Jesus for dear life. Actually, it is Jesus who holds on to us for our dear lives. Indeed, Jesus is worthy of our undivided faith. The world calls attention to things that don’t hold, things like politics, illicit behaviors, and self-help psychology. Amidst a cacophony of misleading voices, Paul calls us Christians to stand firm in our faith in Christ and to hold on to His Word. Faith in Him comes to fruition in a life that is eternal. Trust placed in Him leads to wisdom amidst the craziness of this world. Stand firm in Christ for yourself; stand firm in Christ for others; we’ll all be blessed as you do!

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, give us courage to stand firm in our faith in You and to hold on to Your Word. Grant that we not only stand firm for ourselves, but for others as well. AMEN

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