“Live in peace with one another.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:13b
Can you imagine what is would be like being a brand new church? I’m not talking about being in a brand new church building, or engaging in an expansion of a church in another city, or even another country. I’m asking you to imagine what would it have been like to be one of the first groups of people to ever be knit together by the Holy Spirit to follow Jesus Christ as one body?
Paul is writing to a group of new believers in Christ who have just come together for the first time as an ecclesia, a gathering of believers, in Thessalonica. Among the things they didn’t yet know was how to behave with one another. Paul says to them, you’re to be at peace with one another. He doesn’t just say that, though. Earlier in this passage, he instructs his new brothers and sisters in Christ to respect their leaders, and to hold them “in the highest regard in love,” for the work that they do in shepherding the flock.
Living in peace with one another, you see, means being part of a larger group – a flock that is shepherded by His Spirit. The word for peace in this passage emphasizes a sense of oneness, of quietness – of a restoration to one body. This link between peace and unity is often missed in the English. Paul knew, through the Holy Spirit, that this young church’s source of strength was their ability to lean into Jesus and allow their hearts to be shepherded by His Spirit, as one body, through the leadership of those He had ordained.
Personal application: Take a moment to lay before God two or three of your closest relationships with believers in the body of Christ. Do they reflect submission to the peace and leadership of Christ? If not, why not? Is there some area of your life that God is wanting to change so that you can submit to the shepherding of others? How do you and your friends love on those who work hard to shepherd you?