Encourage One Another
Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing. (1 Thess. 5:11)
When I ran the Cleveland Marathon more than 20 years ago, the finish was on Euclid Avenue somewhere around East 14th Street. After running 25 miles, you came down the Detroit Avenue bridge, around Public Square and onto Euclid Ave. Crowds lined the course all the way down Euclid, getting thicker and louder the closer you got to the finish line. It was just the jolt of encouragement I needed after three and a half hours of running as the cheers carried me through the last half mile of the day. With that encouragement it proved to be the easiest half mile of the day.
I know it was not just me the crowds were cheering for. It was for the hundreds of runners finishing around me. And it wasn’t because we were fighting to win the race. The winners had finished more than an hour before. They were probably showered and enjoying brunch already. But the crowds remained, lining the streets, cheering and encouraging every runner struggling to finish.
As I ran down Euclid Avenue amid that cheering, no one asked me who I voted for in the last election. They didn't care if I was gay or straight. My take on Roe v. Wade didn't matter. The crowds that lined Euclid Avenue on that beautiful spring morning simply saw runners who were trying to reach the finish line and they offered their encouragement to us all.
Paul's advice to the Thessalonians to encourage one another and build up each other comes after he reminds them, "that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." This is their finish line, but unlike the end of a marathon, no one knows where that finish line may be. In the meantime, rather than striving against one another or tearing one another down, Paul encourages them and all the early church to support, strengthen, and encourage each other.
You have probably heard the saying, "Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about." The finish line isn't always in sight, but we can all use some encouragement on the journey. May we all work to encourage each other along the way and build up one another as we strive for the beloved community of God.