August 28, 2020
Finding “Eternal Comfort and Good Hope”
August 28, 2020
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. . . .
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, 17 comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.
These verses address two issues that still engage us today: first, transparency, and second, “the mystery of lawlessness.” In the first chapter, the writer mentioned the revealing of Jesus Christ at the end time. Here he says that before Christ comes again in glory for all to see, the “lawless one” will be revealed as an agent of evil, who disregards God’s ways and sets himself up to be worshiped and flattered.
The Bible is a book of revelations. The revealing can be gradual, or it can be a sudden recognition of who God is. We know now that God is revealed through the life, death, and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus, but we eagerly await the full revelation that will come in God’s own time: Isaiah calls it the “banquet on the holy mountain” when the shroud is lifted, and the Gospels talk about the full glory of Jesus Christ coming in the clouds for all to recognize as Lord.
God wants transparency in all things, including the exposure of God’s enemies. The “lawless one” here may refer to Caligula, a cruel and sadistic emperor, who persecuted Christians. Standing against Caligula’s law—which required that he be worshiped as a god—brought trouble for the Christians. We do not have Roman emperors persecuting us, but there are still “lawless ones” who deceive us and distract from God’s rule. We remember John Lewis’s urging us to engage in “good trouble” for the sake of exposing “the lawless one.” Part of the “mystery of lawlessness” is discerning what is good and true in God’s reign and then opposing human laws that act against God’s will.
Today’s issues with transparency are complicated by media that is not always trustworthy and by the manipulation of those with powerful interests. As Christians, we have a reference, a lens through which we can view the world. Does the way we live come from God’s great commandment to love God with heart, mind, body, and spirit, and our neighbor as ourself, or are we misled by the agenda of the lawless?
QUESTIONS FOR THE FIELD
- One “mystery of lawlessness” is why some people refuse to follow mandates that are good for them and for others, such as the refusal to wear masks during the pandemic. How does “loving others as we love ourselves” respond to the claim of “personal freedom”?
- How does knowing God help us find a way through “lawlessness” and lack of transparency?
Steer the ship of my life, good Lord, to your quiet harbor, where I can be safe from the storms of sin and conflict. Show me the course I should take. Renew in me the gift of discernment, so that I can always see the right direction in which I should go. And give me the strength and the courage to choose the right course, even when the sea is rough and the waves are high, knowing that through enduring hardship and danger, in your name, we shall find comfort and peace. Amen. (Basil of Caesarea, c. 330-379)