“For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? Yes, you are our glory and joy!”
— 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 (NRSV)
This part of the Apostle Paul’s letter reveals the fretting of a father—far geographically from his children, but ever so close to them in his heart. The source of Paul’s concern emanates clearly from thought that the tempter had won them. Again, much like the parent, Paul has prepared himself for the worst possible news.
Love creates this sort of anxiety.
He is gladdened abundantly, however, when he hears—through Timothy’s encouraging report (1 Thessalonians 3:6-13)—that his children of the faith return his love; the visible sign that the redemption seal remains intact.
The acts of Christian fellowship are to love and be loved. That the Thessalonians had expressed equal concern for Paul and his cohort was very encouraging news, indeed.
Such A Thing As A ‘Good Anxiety’
In our gregariously postmodern age—with all our modern conveniences and stretched forms of truth—we can easily fall for the lie that anxiety, to all forms of it, is a bad thing. Much anxiety is bad, especially as it leads to ill-health or consequences that bring bad relational ends.
But there is also much anxiety that is irrevocably good, notwithstanding the pain it brings. Anxiety is never comfortable.
There is an anxiety that bears itself in love; as the parent is given to anxiety regarding a child’s welfare, or consideration is given to the success or otherwise of divinely-thought-out plans. Love breeds anxiety because it cares, and caring brings with it a cost.
It’s a good anxiety, is love; it compels us to care. It requires us to take responsibility, to own our circumstances and relationships and things; to commit and sometimes to let go.
Love Is A Very Christian Thing
What might seem obvious needs, necessarily, to be enunciated; there is still, and ever perhaps will be in this world, far too much dissension within Christian ranks.
What existed between Paul, his fellow workers, and the Thessalonians was an outstanding example of the humanity and implicit divinity revealed through the Christian bond of love. Such an experience of love is glory-and-joy-inspiring—honouring Jesus’ command that we love one other.
Not all anxiety is bad. Love is a good example; it creates anxiety for all the right reasons. When we love, a life-enriching anxiety is born that lifts relationships. It has its basis in care and compassion and patient nurturing. As a parent is often anxious for their child, love is anxious for all the right reasons.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.