Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
I’m reflecting further on our reading from last Sunday, specifically 1 Thessalonians 1:9, “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”
Notice the direction of this action: to God, from idols. It is not put the other way around. The people had come out of the darkness and into the marvelous light of the Gospel. They had been immersed in deception and misplaced adoration; then they left that for something better. You do not leave your idols for some reason and then painfully try to find God. What happens is that you discover moments of the beauty, the glory and greatness of God. Seeing that and wanting it, you are willing to forsake the cheap and tawdry things you have been trying to satisfy yourselves with. At its core, Idolatry is seeking of self rather than God. Idolatry is putting our trust in created things rather than the Creator. It echoes Satan’s words, which started all of this process: “You will be like God.” (Genesis 3:5) True worship of the true God recognizes the great gulf existing between the quality of life we are disposed to live and the sacrifice of God’s only Son on the cross. God is a God of justice and also a God of love. In the cross of Christ, justice and love have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. The real God is a relentless pursuer who gives no peace until our religiosity is transformed into repentance and faith.
Modern America is surely one of the most idolatrous countries the world has ever seen. We are surrounded with idol worship. We are guilty of the same self-serving idolatry. We may not fashion idols of wood or gold or silver as did our Old Testament ancestors, but we still find no end of things to worship—money, power, politics, youth sports, pleasure—whatever temporarily satisfies our selfish needs and desires. For example, perhaps our greatest idol that we encounter in our hearts today is the idol of comfort. Americans believe we should be able to do whatever we want and like. We should be able to do what makes us comfortable. We should do what makes us happy. This is the idol of comfort. Sound familiar? Trying combat that American mindset with a call to penance. Good luck! No wonder the Apostle Paul and others met such resistance in their early years of church planting and ministry. Whenever they called people to repentance, it was a rebuke to put God first. They called people to return to the Lord and away from self-gratifying idols and self-centered mantras. It also highlights why Paul and his fellow teachers were so impressed by the transformation in the lives of the early Thessalonians.
Elsewhere, in Genesis, Jacob discovered in the corners of his own household a monstrous problem calling for drastic action: “Get rid of the foreign gods,” he said, “and purify yourselves.” These words of Jacob are just as much needed to today than ever before. Thousands of years later, they are just as relevant and the need has only increased in urgency. “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you.” Love for God allows nothing else to take first place; only God can hold that place. Because only God can bring the peace and healing we need. With this love properly fixated on God, the gods of materialism and self go out the window. That insanity that makes men pursue things as if they were gods is replaced by a new and holier affection. Life acquires a new center and a new direction. That center is God, and that direction is God-ward. May the Lord help us put aside everything that distracts us from Him, so that we can return to serve the living and true God. May our lives be renewed through Jesus Christ. Help us clean house Lord; it’s time for You to take over.
“For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His Name; bring an offering, and come into His courts!” (Psalm 96:5-8)
“Idolatry happens when we take good things, and make them ultimate things.” (Tim Keller)
“The system of idolatry, invented by modern Christianity, far surpasses in absurdity anything that we have ever heard of.” (Orson Pratt)
“We make a god out of whatever we find most joy in. So, find your joy in God and be done with all idolatry.” (John Piper)
*** I read a number of similar blogs prior to putting this together. So, this is my attribution to a bunch of random blogs and authors that I didn't do a good job of keeping referencing. My apologies and thank you for the words/inspiration.
Pastor Steve Vera