David continued our series in 1 Thessalonians today looking at the hallmarks of a Christian. He summarized this in three words: turning, serving, and waiting. Do these words reflect us as a church?
Do you have any ‘God-substitutes’ in your life right now? Anyone or anything that holds an influence in your heart above God? In other words: Do you have any idols? The human heart has been described as a ‘perpetual idol factory’.
The Thessalonians were surrounded by idols everywhere, vying for their attention. Although our culture is different to theirs, we too are surrounded by idols. These come in many different forms; money, comfort, sport, power, success, and hobbies.
“Idolatry is making good things into ultimate things” (Tim Keller)
Despite the danger of idolatry, Paul commended the Thessalonians for turning from these idols to serve God. People noticed the Thessalonians reorientating their lives towards God.
What does it mean to turn from idolatry? To turn from idols is to repent; to turn from sin and self and return to God. Repentance lies at the heart of what it means to be Christian. Although as Christians we have an initial moment of repentance, it is more than a single experience. Our struggle with sin and idolatry doesn’t end at that point. The danger of idolatry remains. Therefore, repentance is a continuous and ongoing need.
“All-of-life repentance is the best sign that we are growing deeply and rapidly into the character of Jesus” (Tim Keller)
When was the last time you truly repented? And how do we repent?
David highlighted three important components to true repentance…
Admit you’ve messed up. The motive behind this is important. Do we admit sin because we’re simply scared of the consequences of that sin? Or is it because we are genuinely sorry for the sin itself?
Feel sorrow for your sin. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin. Let’s not wallow in sorrow, but let it propel us back to the love of God. Although repentance can be bitter, it displays to us the depths of God’s grace.
Reorientation towards God. We don’t just turn away from sin; we must turn towards God. Reorientation towards God requires a renewed and intentional desire to obey him.
In light of this, our service to God comes out of gratitude and love, rather than obligation. We were created to serve and glorify God.
Just as the Thessalonians were turning from sin and serving God as they waited for the return of Jesus, so should we. As we live in-between Jesus’ ascension and second coming let’s wait with eager anticipation and assurance that Jesus holds our salvation secure. Let’s follow the example of the Thessalonian Christians to turn, serve and wait for our risen King.
- Take some time to truly repent over any idols in your life.
- How are you actively waiting for Christ’s return?
- Use John Stott’s Daily Prayer this week to focus on Jesus as you continue to live in ‘the in-between’…
Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more. Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you. Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God, have mercy upon me. Almighty God, Creator and sustainer of the universe, I worship you. Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour and Lord of the World, I worship you. Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of the people of God, I worship you. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be forever, Amen.