This morning, chewing on two passages which make reference to idols. One speaks of the plight of those who make them, the other of the path before those who turn from them. One of the folly of bowing before gods made by human hands, the other of the fruit associated with the pursuit of the living and true God.
. . . you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
(1Thessalonians 1:9b-10 ESV)
That was the word on the street concerning what had happened in Thessalonica. Though Paul had only been allowed to stay there a few short weeks (Acts 17:1-10), the precious seed of the gospel had been sown, and the power of the Spirit of God had taken hold. And what happened there had gone viral, their faith in God spoken of everywhere (1:8).
They were known for their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope” (1:5). Becoming “an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia” (1:7).
They were alive! Living life, and living it to the full. Shaking things up for the kingdom, they were not only followers of the Way, but they were “imitators” of the risen Lord (1:6).
What a contrast to the other passage I read describing those who turn from God to serve idols made by human hands.
The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see;
they have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths.
Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them!
(Psalm 135:15-18 ESV)
Inanimate. Lifeless. Moving their mouths but nothing of lasting substance spoken. Eyes wide open yet blind. Ears capable of hearing only, “Wah, wah, wah!”
Worship silver and gold, and expect, eventually, to be as desensitized as silver and gold. No real feeling. Nothing much to offer but an inert existence.
But really, today in our context, for most of us silver and gold aren’t the valuable treasures we use to fashion our idols. Instead, the precious material with which we craft our idols is our time.
Show me where someone puts in their time and I’ll show you what they are trusting in. Show me what consumes their week, and it may be a pretty good indicator of what they are looking to for self-realization and self-satisfaction. And that which they have fashioned, not with silver and gold but with minutes and hours, and placed on the altar of their priorities, is that which eventually defines them. Their identity becomes encased in “time idols” of their own making. Those who make such time idols and trust in these time idols become like their time idols. Because these time idols rob the time deserving of the God who made time, the God who gives to each man and woman limited time, ends up not getting their time at all.
And at the end of the day, these time idols are just as lifeless and just as inert as silver and gold idols. And “those who make them become like them.” Desensitized to the life they were created for. Never really finding the fulfillment they were made for. No real investment in the future. No legacy left outside of time. Nothing of eternal value.
O, to be like the Thessalonians and turn from our time idols to serve the living and true God. To be spoken about in time-transcending, heavenly realms as those marked by our work of faith, our labor of live, and our steadfastness of hope.
Marks not made by our human hands, but by His grace. A legacy not for our boasting, but for His glory.