2 Thessalonians 2:15 (ESV): 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.
A purpose of both Paul’s letters to the church in Thessalonica was to address misunderstandings of the people concerning Christ’s return.
Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2 to assure the believers that Christ had not yet already returned. Paul gave some details about the man of lawlessness who would be revealed before Christ’s second coming.
Paul then transitioned, giving thanks to God for these believers, expressing his confidence of God’s salvation and calling. Therefore, Paul urged them to stand firm and hold to the traditions the missionaries had taught them.
To our modern ears, “traditions” often has a negative and legalistic tone. This should not confuse us about Paul’s meaning. Rather, in addition to the doctrine Paul taught believers, he also taught them practices of living and worship: traditions they should follow, “religion.”
“Religion” also includes negative connotations for many today, but that is unfortunate also. We understand: religion does not and cannot ever save us from sinfulness before God.
But our practice of living a holy life is a “religion”. My practice of reading God’s Word and praying every day is part of my religion, for example. Or, my practice of attending church regularly is also a religious tradition.
In the midst of a corrupt world in which it seems like Christ’s coming is imminent, now more than ever, we must stand firm and continue the basic “traditions” of our faith.
Some might be tempted to put aside such basic religious practices, believing that “the hour” called for breathless waiting of the unveiling of Christ. But that was the error of some in Thessalonica Church: becoming busybodies, refusing to work because Christ’s coming was near.
Another temptation might be to compromise with a hostile world, slacking on various religious practices in order to get along with people who are unsympathetic to our faith in Christ and in order to keep up with a world changing rapidly.
We should recognize that best way to live for Christ is counter-culturally, standing firm for God instead of running from fad to fad.
Heavenly Father, please help me to stand firm in a hurried world that is often hostile to you. May I live faithfully, anticipating your return. In Jesus’ name, Amen.