Yesterday’s reading from 1 Thessalonians is one of my favorite passages from the Apostle Paul. He clearly loves this church and thinks they are on the right track. His encouragement is more than cheerleading, however. He has no intention of letting this church rest on its laurels, satisfied with a job well done. “You’re doing the right things,” Paul affirms, “so keep doing them more and more.” Paul raises the bar for the church at Thessalonika, just as any good coach would do. “Great job” sounds hollow and meaningless. “You did that really well. Want to go one step higher? Here’s what you need to do to get to the next level …” – now that is coaching.
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, … For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. – I Thessalonians 4:1-4, 7-12
As this first week of Advent draws to a close, and we prepare to light the second candle on the Advent wreath, it’s clear that Waiting requires more and more of us. More loving each other, more self-control, more quiet living, more minding our own business, and more working with our hands. This is the stuff of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom that is already here among us, but not yet complete. It is for this Kingdom that we wait, more and more.