July 31, 2019
"We beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). This week, several members of our congregation received emails from someone pretending to be me. Those who responded to them found the sender requesting money or gift cards. It was a scam, made even more disturbing than other phishing attempts by the fact that the person was pretending to be a pastor and exploiting your trust of me to prey upon you. If you received such messages, I would beg you, in Paul's words, "not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed" and to "let no one deceive you in any way."
The Apostle Paul also apparently dealt with others who sent fraudulent correspondence in his name. In the context of the verse quoted above, the church in Thessalonica had apparently received fraudulent letters saying that the second coming of Christ had already come. In his authentic letter correcting this teaching, Paul assures them that the end will not come until after a "lawless one" arises who uses lies and deception for his own exploitative purposes. Those whom Christ saves, by contrast will "love the truth" and "believe the truth" (2:10,12). It seems the deceitful ways of the lawless one were already at work in Paul's day (2:7), and they were marked by deception. Jesus' followers, on the other hand, hold to the truth because we belong to the One who is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).
In Jesus' prayer for his followers in John 17, he asks the Father to "sanctify them in the truth" (John 17:17). As we pray this week, let's echo Jesus' prayer and ask God to continue to make us people of truth. May he guard us against every falsehood and give us discernment to recognize truth and lies.
Grace and Peace,