The Church struggles with what it should be teaching – particularly new converts. It also struggles with what the whole Church needs to know.
I would submit that the Thessalonian letters provide us with an outline of basic Christian teaching, for in these letters Paul continually reminds these new Christians of what he taught them at the beginning of their walk with God.
Critical to that walk is the notion that our lives should be lived to please God. Paul calls it “being sanctified.” We may understand it as the requirements of holiness.
Paul begins with the idea of sexual purity – something which he mentions in nearly all his letters. Our world, much like Paul’s, would have us believe that sex is innocent behavior that should have no bounds – or at least few of them. It is but a benefit of friendship. And yet, God placed bounds on it and many of the problems we face in society are the result of crossing those boundaries. Illicit sexual behavior is one of two foundations for the AIDS epidemic, for the increase of one parent households, for the increase of unwanted children, for an increase of the poor in society and for the oppression and marginalization of women. As Paul begins to remind his readers of the holy life, he begins with this subject.
He quickly moves to how we treat one another and reminds his readers – and us – that we should live in such a way that will win the respect of those who are not Christians.
The world is watching us. We must be sure that what they see is the life of Christ in our own.