by Kevin Pauley
Also, this is why we constantly thank God, because when you received the message about God that you heard from us, you welcomed it not as a human message, but as it truly is, the message of God, which also works effectively in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, since you have also suffered the same things from people of your own country, just as they did from the Jews. They killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and persecuted us; they displease God, and are hostile to everyone, - 1 Thessalonians 2:13-15 HCSB
Many religions appeal to their potential converts by promising virgins in paradise or riches, health and wealth. Some are more modest, promising only favor with your fellow man or perhaps a warm glowing feeling that comes from “doing the right thing.”
Oddly enough, Paul’s approach was very different. He commended the Thessalonicans for receiving the message as divine and urged them to imitate God’s churches in Christ Jesus that were in Judea. Why? Because they suffered too. His reasoning? Unbelievers killed the prophets, murdered the Lord Himself and persecuted the apostles – so of course! Join us!
The false religion of Cultural Christianity croaks, “Believe in yourself! You are wonderful! Bring out the inner hero in you!” This sounds vaguely like another sales pitch from long ago, “You too can be like gods!”
In contrast, Paul urges, “Now we want each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the final realization of your hope, so that you won't become lazy, but imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance. Remember your leaders who have spoken God's word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith.” Don’t be lazy! Imitate the suffering churches! The word used in these passages, by the way, is the Greek word “mimeisthai” which means to imitate but is the origin of the English word “mimic”.
It’s hard work to mimic the suffering, persecuted Church. It’s tough to consider the torturous self-sacrifice of the Master and discipline our sin-laden selves to set our pride aside and serve others like Him. There’s no room for the lazy here. There’s no place for the go-to-church-occasionally-when-I-feel-like-it crowd. The half-hearted and the fence riders need not apply.
Cultural Christianity elevates the self. It appeals to the seeker, conforming itself to whatever the current worldly fad is in order to be more palatable. Adonaism (the beliefs of those who claim Adonai as their sovereign Lord) humbles the self and says, “Count the cost before becoming a disciple of Yeshua.” It stubbornly refuses to conform to the world and instead, demands that the convert transform the way he or she normally thinks. Cultural Christianity promises an experience. Adonaism promises a relationship. Experiences don’t necessarily require a lot of work. Just go to the concert and you get one. Relationships? Now that demands work.
So consider all those before us who have suffered and even died. But go on to their end. Consider the outcome. Think of what they have inherited. Then decide.
"Today's Little Lift" from
Uncertain Riches (1 Timothy 6.17)Read Article »
Kevin Pauley is a pastor and writer. He lives in Illinois with his wife, Lynn, their five children and two dogs. His internet address is Berea.
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