*Sigh* It’s all over. The Christmas lights, the carols, the loads of fattening, sugary food baking in the oven.
So this week, we prepare to clean it all up, and do it again. For some 2016 has been a year
of great shock. For many, it has been a year of celebration. We have celebrated new little lives entering our world, we have celebrated unions of marriage, we have celebrated love, engagement, new jobs, and so much more. Simultaneously many have lost loved ones, marriages have crumbled, financial situations have torn relationships apart. We scratched and clawed at one another in light of the election. We watched many burn and die as a result of terrorism–terrorism by those that look like us and those that don’t alike. My 2016 was classified by the loss of my grandfather and my union of marriage. It has been a year of roller coasters with high highs and low lows.
No matter what 2016 held for any of us, we are all looking for the same thing in 2017: hope.
As we dive back in to 1 Thessalonians, let us remember that our search for hope can begin and end in one place. Paul and Timothy brought that hope to the people of Thessalonica, but not without specifying the type of Gospel that is truth.
In turn, we find out the type of gospel we should avoid. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:3-8 with me.
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For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
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Let’s start my classifying different kinds of “gospels.” You see, there is The Gospel, and there is the word gospel. The word gospel in its origins means good news or story. It can also be defined as “something accepted or promoted as infallible truth or as a guiding principle or doctrine” according to Webster’s. The Gospel refers to the truth of Jesus Christ’s coming to save the world. (You can read more about that in last week’s blog post!)
But my good news that is the guiding principle of my life could really be anything if you think about it. I could base my life upon social justice along. I could base my life on my relationship with Austin. I could even base my life on fulfilling my own happiness. But what is the end result of those things? Are they really infallible truths? Or are they based on certain situations and scenarios?
My challenge for us in 2017 is to leave our earthly ‘gospels’ in 2016. Paul is clear. If our gospels fall under the following categories, they are not The Gospel.
- There is an attempt to deceive
- It is pleasing to human beings
- It is brought with words of flattery
- It harbors a pretext of greed
- It seeks glory from people
- It is not gentle
Friends, if our gospel or even your view of Jesus is that He might only make us happy, we have got it all wrong. Please avoid these false gospels. They promise us that if we do certain things, we can have all our hearts’ desires. They affirm our sinful nature. They tell us that we are good enough the way we are and we don’t need any kind of ‘saving’. They seek to be the biggest and best thing. They declare that if you give your life to them, you will have power, prosperity, and pleasure. They fight for you. They are brought by the enemy.
Let us leave our desire to “have our best life now” in 2016. Rather, let us desire to give God glory now no matter our earthly situation. Let us remember that He is so affectionately desirous of us that He would send us His Son to live a lowly life free of glamor and ease. Let us remember that we are in no way promised comfort. In fact, we are promised that it will be hard to live for Him. But it will be the most fulfilling thing we could possibly imagine. He will give us all that we need. He will take away our constant desire for the next thing.
In some cases, he may give us that next thing. But it will be so that we can use it for His glory alone.
This year I plan to leave my desire to be well known in 2016. I plan to leave any resentment I harbor toward people here. I plan to dwell on the fact that even if I don’t get my dream job post-college, God is good. He has something better even if I can’t see that better right now. I plan to lean on Him and only Him to move forward in Hope.
Will you lean into Him with me this year? Will you share the love you have been granted with others boldly and lovingly? In 2017 I plan to recognize that without Him, planning is as far as we will get. He is the one who will help us do.