1 THESSALONIANS 5:12-28
12But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; 13esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. 15See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. 16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise the words of prophets, 21but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22abstain from every form of evil.
23May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
25Beloved, pray for us.
26Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. 27I solemnly command you by the Lord that this letter be read to all of them.
28The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
For the Apostle Paul there was no such thing as "heroic" or "super" Christianity. For Paul, there was only "mere" Christianity. There wasn't a Christianity for amateurs and a different one for professionals. There wasn't one for the half-committed and another one for the fully-committed. For Paul, either one followed Christ or one did not.
If one did follow Christ, then a certain "way of being" was entailed. This way of being contained actions and attitudes, all of which grounded or centered on the reality of God. The command, "rejoice always," recognizes the gifted-ness of all good things coming from God; the command, "give thanks in all circumstances," acknowledges the sovereign goodness and the good sovereignty of God. No circumstance, in other words, is outside God's ultimate oversight and authority. Therefore it makes theological sense to give thanks in all circumstances. Because God is sovereign over all circumstances.
And in exercising these actions of rejoicing and thanksgiving, over time, the virtues of joy and gratefulness get developed, becoming a "natural" part of who we are. Same with "pray without ceasing." How can this be a real command? Do we not sleep? And eat? And do other things things that demand 100% of our attention? "Without ceasing" does not mean every second. It means be in prayer throughout the day, be aware of the Lord, be in a state of ready conversation with Him. As you are aware of your physical body throughout the day, be as aware of the Holy Spirit. Be in communion with Jesus -- as a mother who's taking care of her infant, as a newlywed couple in love with each other, as a dog owner adoring her cute Maltese.
"Mere" Christianity is "mere" relationship with God. Continuous prayer, consistent joy, and comprehensive thanksgiving are simply part of normal life in God.
Let's pray: Father God, we thank you that you are 100% aware of us. You are completely attentive and caring and loving. Your thoughts for each of us, as the Psalmist says, would outnumber the grains of sand (Psalm 139:17-18). We say, It is truly a wondrous gift that we are so beloved and that we are your sons and daughters. Help us today to stay in touch with you. In Jesus' name, amen.