“A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.”
“The telephone pole was approaching fast. I was attempting to swerve out of its path when it struck my front end.”
“An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my vehicle and vanished.”
“The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so I ran him over.”
These actual statements which ran in an Ann Landers column were made to an insurance company. Whatever happened, they all declared, “it was not my fault.”
It’s a popular sport — placing the blame. “Passing the buck,” it’s called. You know the story of the hunters who killed a buck out of season and when the game warden questioned them, the buck was passed down the line with each one blaming it on the next one.
Actually, twisting the truth is an age-old game. But when it happens in religious circles, it’s not at all funny.
Such was the case with the church at Thessalonica. False teachers had misguided some good people. Paul, in his first letter to the church, commended it for the good works and good reputation.
So what was wrong? Paul had taught about the return of Jesus — it was a key point of his first letter to them. Some decided to put forth their own theories — twist the truth.
Some said the Day of the Lord had already come. And then there were others who decided, “Well, why bother with things like jobs and responsibility — let’s just wait around until Jesus comes.”
You could say it was “no work and all pray,” as Stan Campbell of Lisle (Ill.) Bible Church, said in his book, “From the Desk of the Apostle Paul.”
In the second letter less than a year later, he had to correct a few things. Not that he didn’t commend the people for the good things he heard about them, such as their patience and faith.
And he didn’t “come out shooting.” The letter began with assurance, even to holding the church up as a model.
Paul went back to basics: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand” (2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2).
“Let no man deceive you by any means,” Paul said as he began to remind them of what he had taught them — “Remember ye not ...?”
Now there were some who were troubled and confused about the message as he notes in 2 Thessalonians 1:7: “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.”
And as for those who trumped up a reason for not working — “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Busybodies, Paul called them — “walking disorderly.”
But to the brothers, Paul said, “Be not weary in well doing.”
We can avoid being taken in with “a twisting of the truth” by heeding Paul’s advice to the Thessalonians: “Therefore brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle ... comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work” (2 Thessalonians 2:15, 16).