2 Thessalonians 3.6-
Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us.
He had attended church throughout his life, but his faith was basically idle. He listened to the sermons, put money in the offering plate when it came by, and even attended a few bible studies. However, the extent of his belief, participation, and discipleship was lacking. It was clear that nothing excited him about church and he was simply attending because it was the “right thing” to do.
The pastor took notice of this and decided to invite the young man on a mission trip to build stoves for indigenous Mayans in the highlands of Guatemala. Though perhaps initially reluctant, the young man thought it might be a nice little vacation and he would get to work on his spanish.
For 5 days he was worked to the bone. The food and coffee were often cold, the air was too thin for proper working conditions, he kept finding dried cement between his fingers, and he was perpetually exhausted. But something happened. Something changed within his disposition while in that remote village of the Highlands; his faith caught on fire. Though he felt run down by the physically exhaustion, for the first time in his live his faith was no longer idle. He was working for the kingdom of God and (as if the blindfold had been removed from his eyes) he began to see the importance, joy, and depth of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica regarding the idleness present in the worshipping church. Clearly, there were people that were not participating to the degree that Paul would have liked and their behavior was detrimental to the greater church. While reading his words about isolating the idle believers it seems too drastic and definitely unchristian. Though it is perhaps extreme, the point that Paul makes is remarkably important: Christianity is dependent on the character of its disciples. If idleness is present throughout the church, the excitement and joy of what it means to the be the body of Christ for the world will disappear. Paul encouraged the Christians in Thessalonica to keep away from idle believers, but perhaps what we really need to do is help build up their faith, invite them to participate in ways that will light their faith on fire, so that the kingdom can become real for them.
So, if you know someone idle in their faith, reach out to them. Invite them to participate in new and exciting ways. Help them to see the glory and joy of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
If you feel that your faith is idle, find ways to engage in the local church. How can you serve those in need? Where can you be Christ’s body for others? What would it take to set your faith ablaze?
Faith is only faith when it is being practiced.