Accomplished thieves leave no evidence. The very best thieves, if we are to believe Hollywood, leave calling cards. Paul encourages his listeners in Thessalonica telling them they have no reason to be caught off guard by the “day of the Lord.” Since the Thessalonians are “children of light” and are not “of the night or of darkness,” they have no reason to fear Jesus’ thieving ways. Like the Thessalonians, we are also “children of the light” and have no reason to fear the thief of the night. However, there are times when we might let our guard down, times when we hang up the helmet of hope and lay aside the breastplate of faith and love. What are we to do when we, or our brothers and sisters, slip into the darkness. In this darkness, we need the Lord to come, but in our strange, dark comfort we fear the light of Christ. It’s ironic isn’t it? When we need the Lord the most, we tend to be most frightened of his coming.
What is left for the Lord to do but to steal our hearts back for himself? In the darkness of an addiction, for example, the addict puts up the strongest walls against the good thief: these are walls of denial, shame, anger, self-preservation, and self-sufficiency, etc. He barricades against the coming of the thief.
The darkness of sin has been compared to the prison of addiction. In the darkness of sin, we think the best way out of the dark is to hunker down deeper into ourselves. It would never occur to us to open up, spread out, let down the defenses, and become vulnerable to the thief. Like the addict, the sinner thinks the Lord will come with a vengeance, smashing down walls and laying waste to every obstacle. It’s just the opposite; the Lord becomes crafty like a fox, outsmarting our well-laid battlements. Before we know it, we’ve been robbed.
How does this dynamic work in the real world? It’s works when we “encourage one another and build each other up.” Here’s how the Lord works around our defenses. When we put down our weapons of criticism and judgment and pick up the trowels of unity and the shovels of love, then we help the Lord in his thievery.