20 As he approached it, he called out to Daniel, worried: “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God—the one you serve so consistently—able to rescue you from the lions?”
1 Thessalonians 1
4 Brothers and sisters, you are loved by God, and we know that he has chosen you. 5 We know this because our good news didn’t come to you just in speech but also with power and the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know as well as we do what kind of people we were when we were with you, which was for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord when you accepted the message that came from the Holy Spirit with joy in spite of great suffering. 7 As a result you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The message about the Lord rang out from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia but in every place. The news about your faithfulness to God has spread so that we don’t even need to mention it. 9 People tell us about what sort of welcome we had from you and how you turned to God from idols. As a result, you are serving [or have become slaves of] the living and true God, 10 and you are waiting for his Son from heaven. His Son is Jesus, who is the one he raised from the dead and who is the one who will rescue us from the coming wrath.
Calling God “living” may seem pretty standard to us. In a pagan world, full of believers in a pantheon of “gods” known only as images of wood and stone, it truly was a turn “from idols” to the living God. The apostle Paul echoed to the Christians in Thessalonica what the Persian king said to Daniel. It was what the Israelites saw after Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal (cf. 1 Kings 18:39), and what the prophet wrote about how absurd it was to worship a block of wood (Isaiah 44:9-17).
Lord Jesus, it doesn’t always fit my human expectations, but you are alive and active even in this broken, troubled world. Let my life reflect yours in words, but even more importantly in actions. Amen.
* Wright, N.T., Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians (The New Testament for Everyone) . Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition, location 1463-1467.
In many museums with ancient artifacts, you’re likely to see idols made of stone, metal, or wood. It seems like nearly every belief system at the time had a version of them. If you’re like me, you’ve stood in front of cases like the one below displaying such idols and scoffed: “How could anyone possibly believe that these idols held any sort of power? They’re nothing more than ornate action figures. Did people think they’d solve their problems? How much time did they spend worshipping these lifeless items?!” My judge-o-meter skyrockets to the top as I consider how ridiculous they were to put their hope in worthless objects.
But if I’m to be honest with you, I, too, have idols. It’s just that mine may not be as easily identifiable as such, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t look to them for answers or to fill my emptiness. Here’s what mine look like:
I get embarrassed in thinking about how much power I allow them to have over me, especially when you consider that I have constant and easy access to a living and powerful God. I don’t mean to assume that you have idols as well, but I’d encourage you to assess where you turn when life gets hard, when you want to escape, or when you’re hoping to find meaning. What is it you’re worshipping? Is it power? Food? Your children? Your intellect? Your good works? It’s easy to put our trust in these kinds of lesser gods, but they’ll only ever lead to us living lesser lives. There’s one very real and living God who invites us to something far greater – to an abundant life found by putting our faith in and following him.
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