Good morning and welcome to Thursday’s podcast. We are over half way through another lockdown week. The sun has been shining and you’ve had the pleasure of my company in the mornings… What’s not to like!?
Through the week we have looked at how we have been tested, approved and entrusted with the gospel, we have given thanks for those who shared the gospel with us and we have received God’s word as we should – as the true word of God.
So how about today? Today’s passage is 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20, you will hear the full reading at the end of this reflection. For now, let’s zero in on v 19,
For what is our hope, our joy, or our crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
Today, I want to look at what we boast in; what gives us a sense of value or worth. Reading a book recently there was a story of a couple of people attending a works party. Lots of people: from the lowest in the company to the very top bosses were gathered. There was drink and posh nibbles and lots of social interaction. As our two characters reflected on their evening on the journey home they realised that well over 90% of their conversations were about position and status. The great job they were doing, the value they brought to the company, the hopes and dreams that they had for promotion or increased sales. Even when talk turned to family it was about how well they were parenting, how amazing their kids were doing and how poorly other were doing in comparison. From that moment on our couple were determined to check their language and watch what they said.
They soon discovered that they didn’t have very much to say.
We all have a tendency to talk ourselves up, to justify our existence and to demonstrate that we have value.
We live in a culture that is dominated by results. Where the messages that we receive are constantly: to work harder, achieve more, buy the latest gadget, eat at the right restaurants, dress in the right clothes, look the part, sound the part, fake it until you make it. A little bit more… a little bit more and then you will be accepted; you might be somebody.
But God’s kingdom – our new value system – doesn’t follow the same course; it doesn’t play by the same rules.
Instead of having to prove ourselves; to earn our place; to justify our position, God calls us beloved. He loves us because of who we are, not because we have met our targets.. Jesus died to call us friends; to call us brothers and sisters; to include us in the family. We work from that place of acceptance, not to try and earn it. It’s called grace and it is so counterintuitive to our upbringing and our society.
This is God’s kingdom… and it pervades everything.
God’s kingdom changes our value system. The flash car, the latest iPhone, the designer label, these no longer have any value for us, and we no longer hold up those that have all the right gear as people to be looked up to. We recognise fame and fortune for what they are, worthless in God’s kingdom.
Jesus said, “Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:33-34)
Paul writes, “For what is our hope, our joy, or our crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?”
The truth is that we are loved beyond measure, we are accepted, included in the family, we belong! And we will find true wealth – true riches – in the abundance and depth of our connections on planet earth.
Paul’s crown, his glory, his riches come in the form of others. Those who Paul has had the pleasure of sharing his life with, those who Paul has sacrificed for, those who have welcomed Paul and received the gospel.
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God’…and…‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
Love here has that sense of self sacrificing service to God and to others.
That’s it… That is all that God values… That is all that is important in the kingdom of heaven. These are the true riches that thieves cannot steal nor moth destroy.
This is a huge challenge to me. There are all kinds of things that get in the way: the house, the car, the job, the future, the pension, the kids, the kids education… the list goes on.
And that’s just the physical stuff.
What about the relational junk that can easily build up: the hurt, the lack of trust, the blame shifting, the unforgiveness.
“But Lord, I will love others but I don’t want to love my enemies!!”
Today, there is a call on our lives and it is very simple – to love God and love others – everything else is window dressing. Today the call is to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven where the thief cannot steal and the moth cannot destroy.
So let us take a check on our priorities; our drivers and motivation. Are they coming from a place of love, sacrificial service to help and enable others… or from a place of self promotion, financial gain or selfish indulgence?
Let’s take a look around us, our home, our neighbours, our extended families, our church family… Let’s give thanks for all of the fantastic people God has littered throughout our lives.
Let’s love and serve them today.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil… Amen.
BIBLE READING: 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20
But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. For we wanted to come to you – certainly I, Paul, did, again and again – but Satan blocked our way. For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.