When my mom was younger she had a dog named Gidget. Gidget liked to be around people but my grandfather had a strict rule that the dog was not allowed in the dining area while they were eating. Gidget’s solution to this was to wait just on the outside of the entryway and to poke her head into the room where everyone was seated at the table. Until my grandfather looked her way. Then she would immediately turn her head the other way. Apparently, the dog thought that it only mattered if she did the right thing if my grandfather’s eyes were directly on her. Otherwise, she would test the boundaries.
Unfortunately, many of us approach our lives in a similar manner to Gidget the dog. When we know our actions are on display, when people are watching us, we are more inclined to do what God expects of His children. When we are in the quietness of our solitude, when we neglect to remember that even when we are in alone He is still well aware of what we do, we are prone to test the boundaries. This is the reason that one of the favorite accusations against Christians is that they are hypocrites. Unfortunately, many behave differently at church on Sunday than they do the rest of the week.
In his second letter to the Thessalonicans, Paul didn’t have such a concern. As he writes to them:
And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. (2 Thess. 3:4)
Even though Paul wasn’t with them, he had confidence in their obedience. Not only in the present, but in the time to come as well! His statement wasn’t couched in qualifiers or hesitations. He was so sure of the Thessalonicans desire to live a godly live, that he knew that they would be doing the work of God – whether he was there to watch them or not!
Wouldn’t it be awesome if the same could be said of us? How would people’s perceptions of Christians change if they were just as committed to representing Christ when they were with their friends at church as they were when they were with their colleagues at work? What if pastors and church leaders could have confidence in their flocks’ obedience to God’s Word, even if the difficult moments, even when the temptation was intense? Would this not only alter the world’s perceptions of Christ-followes, but also change our churches?
May we increasingly be more like the Thessalonican church, and less like Gidget the dog. May our obedience to God’s commands not depend on the circumstance we are in, but on the call God has placed on our lives.