In junior high I wasn’t much of a fighter. I was big, but conflict and fights were of no interest to me. However, junior high is a time when many boys/young men are interested in fighting as a means of demonstrating superiority, strength, and “manhood.”
On one occasion, while walking home from school, I was intercepted by another student who was determined to have conflict and wanted to resolve it his way (and he didn’t seem open to the possibility of dialog, my preferred means of conflict resolution!). I didn’t have any classes with him and I’d never talked to him or met him in any other context. I guess I was just the next random potential source of conquest for him. So he confronted me in a field not far from my home, took a couple of swings, and I did the only sensible thing.
Running was never my forte, and I know he could have caught me had he wanted to, but I had no interest in sticking around for the bloody conclusion to our conversation.
More than the actual conflict, I was running from the potential of pain and hurt. I was running from what I thought would happen in the following few minutes.
And that’s why believers in Christ also sometimes run away from circumstances and even from Christ. They are fearful of what might be in the future. They are afraid of standing and staying and being bold. They are afraid of the potential of persecution or ostracism or rejection or pain, and so they run away.
They are like the Thessalonians, who also were confronted with an opportunity to run. They knew of the coming of the Antichrist and they were afraid of what might happen to them. Like me, they wanted to run.
So Paul exhorted them with a simple command: “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught” (2 Thess 2:15). Like a soldier in battle, they were not to run, but to hold their ground and fight. And in the surrounding verses, Paul gives several reasons why they are to stand:
- They are loved by the Lord (v. 13). In fact, in other passages, Paul would explain that God adopts all believers into His eternal family (Gal. 4:1-7; Rom. 8:16ff), and if we are His beloved sons, He protects us by His familial commitment.
- They were chosen by God in eternity past for salvation (v. 13). And if God chose them for salvation and sent Christ to accomplish their salvation, then he will also complete that salvation (Rom. 8:28-30).
- Because they have been called by the gospel, they gain the glory of Christ (v. 14). That is, eternity is secure because of the gospel. Nothing can impede their attaining to the fulfillment of God’s promise of union with Christ.
And because these things are true, they can stand (not to mention that God will vanquish any foes to His throne with but a word from His mouth, vv. 8-12). And likewise, whatever fears we face, as believers we may rest in confidence in the Lord’s promises and our position with Him.
There is no reason to run. And there is every reason to stand.