Turning from and Waiting for . . . (cont)

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Golden idol

Golden idol

Paul praises the Tessalonians for two things: for no longer worshiping idols but only the Creator God; and for waiting for Jesus to rescue them from God’s impending judgement. I wonder if the example of the Thessalonians could be helpful for us in working out how we should live.

We don’t talk about idols much today, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. An idol is anything that is more important to us than God. Idols are those places in our lives where our heart and our imagination are distracted from following Jesus.

Given this definition there are countless idols in our modern world. For example, many in our community use the acquisition of more possessions to help them feel good. Others are drawn to self-worship through materialism, career, and success. Still others seek entertainment to mask sorrow and boredom.

And Christians are not immune. We live in the midst of a community full of idols, so it is no surprise we too are drawn to them. Yet, what would it look like if we, like the Thessalonians, in our confession that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, distanced ourselves more strongly from these idols? Would it help us to know how to live in these challenging times?

Money cab be an idol

Money can be an idol

Paul also praises the Thessalonians in their response to God’s impending judgement.

Not only do we not talk much about idols, neither do we speak much about judgement. The Bible consistently warns of a terrible day when God will bring judgment on all that is idolatrous, unjust and immoral in our world. Although we are part of the world and should be judged accordingly, we escape judgement because of Jesus and all that he has and will do on our behalf. Not only has Jesus saved us from our sin, he will also save us from the coming judgement.

Modern day idol

Another modern-day idol

In the midst of a world in the grips of globalisation, the sexual revolution, consumerism, the rise of environmentalism, and rampant individualism, it is good to be reminded of God’s master plan. Despite what many may think is the future of planet earth, God has already given us insight into the final outcome. One day the world with all its idolatry, self-centredness and injustice will be judged and peace will reign supreme.

We worship and serve the living and true God. What would it mean for us, in the midst of all the challenges we face as a church, if we were praised like the Thessalonians? Such praise would have nothing to do with success or with numbers, but would indicate that we have turned away from our idols and await Jesus’ return as judge.

May God encourage us as we walk and work together at being the church God calls us to be in our day.

Stephen L Baxter

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3 thoughts on “Turning from and Waiting for . . . (cont)

  1. Steve Kormanic says:

    Amen Steve. A poignant reminder, warning and encouragement for the Church in our times.

    One of the central themes of the Bible is the evil of idolatry, and God’s condemnation of it.

    The book of Revelation ch.6 – ch.9 inclusive, provides a detailed description of God’s judgments poured out on a rebellious world – perhaps one of the most dreadful being this : “…in those days, men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.”
    Revelation 8:6]

    Yet despite this series of horrific judgments, chapter 9 concludes with these words :

    “By these plagues a third of mankind was killed – by fire and the smoke and the brimstone….But the rest of mankind , who were not killed by these plagues , did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.” [ Revelation 9:18- 21]

    No wonder the apostle Paul, addressing the leading intelligentsia of pagan Greek society in Athens in his day, concluded his polemic with these words:

    “Truly, these times of ignorance God has overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has appointed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising him
    from the dead.” [ Acts 17:30-31]

    Interestingly, the passage goes on to say , “…when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” ” [ Acts 17:32]

    So it is today. Many mock the notion of a day of Judgment, or the existence of an Absolute, Moral God to whom man must give an account – even Jesus Christ the risen Lord.

    Moreover, the notion of ‘sin’ has fallen on hard times – even in some ‘Christian’ circles.

    Ironically, scoffers and mockers actually fulfill the very scriptures they deny, namely the prophetic warnings recorded by the apostles of Christ as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, some 2000 years ago.

    For example, we have these words from God through the apostle Peter:

    “…knowing this first, that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying , “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world, that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word , are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” [ 2 Peter 3:3 – 7]

    The passage goes on to exhort Christians to remember that God Almighty, being Eternal, is not limited by time, but is patient towards us, because His desire is that none should perish, but all should come to repentance.
    Nevertheless, the Day of the LORD will come!

    Let us continue to preach the gospel of Salvation in and through and by Christ Jesus, to every soul of man, as we await His glorious appearing.

    God bless you.

    2 Corinthians 13:14

    Steve J Kormanic.

    • Thanks Steve,
      Thanks Steve. Yep, there’s been scoffers from the beginning and at every point in history. So it is no surprise they are still with us today too. Many misconstrue God’s current amnesty as either a watering down of standard or something akin to impotence. But the offer of mercy won’t last forever and judgment is still to come. It will be, as the bible says a “ great and dreadful day” (Joel 2:31).

      Stephen

  2. Lyn Head says:

    Good one. Thinking about this. In an environment where superannuation, bigger and better houses, etc, etc, seem so important, then we die and can’t take anything with us, is a real challenge. I’m thankful when God reminds me of this. And is so forgiving because of Jesus. Actually it’s a bit sickening to think of his terrible death being for our shallow consumerism. It’s a call to look at where our values lie.

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