Monday, January 11, 2010


Tonight I'm going to show you some pictures, and I want to ask you what they have in common. First up, a batch of celebrities, sports stars, pop stars, and a pile of money. Next, some religious statues. What do they have in common? They're all idols.

An idol is something that takes the place of God. God created us, gave us life, and loves us. He therefore demands and deserves our love, worship, service and life. But we don't do that. We turn away, and worship created things rather than the Creator. We get hung up on stuff rather than God.

What is our idol? What is the thing that we spend our life on - our money, time, energy, we think about the most? What do we put first in our life? Is it alcohol, getting drunk at the weekend, living for the next bottle of booze? Is it sex - as if your life's mission is to sleep with as many people as possible? Is it money - to gain as much as you can? Is it fame - so that everyone knows who you are?

It might even be lots of small idols worshipped together - a combination of money and fame and internet and sex and whatever else. But they're still idols, taking the place of God.

Paul is writing to a group of Christians, people who have become followers of God, and he writes these words: 'you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.' (1 Thessalonians 1:9) This tells us three things:

1. A turning is needed - we can't serve two masters - we can't love God and also hold dear to our idols. Who will we serve? The technical word for this turning is repentance - an about turn, from going our way and running after idols, to turn to God and turn our backs on the idols.

2. God is the living God - Paul goes on to say that God raised Jesus from the dead, and that he will return. Jesus is alive - in contrast to the idols, whatever they are, which are all dead. They cannot save and they cannot satisfy.

3. God is the true God - all other idols are false. Why would you waste your life on a falsehood, a lie, rather than serving the living and true God?

We have a choice to make. Who will we serve? Who will you serve?

This text was the basis for the Talk in St Elizabeth's Teens (SET) on Sunday 10th January 2009 on 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10.

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