Summary: Influence, purity, integrity, witness
A LIFE OF INFLUENCE
1 Thess. 4: 1-12 (Veterans’ Day) November 11, 2012
I have a really good friend named Junior that lives in Lawrenceburg, but works for Toyota in Georgetown…when I knew him he was a deacon at our church…he now serves as an Elder. Junior was born and raised in Lawrenceburg, KY but rose in the ranks at Toyota until he became one of their executives…in this role he had to spend a lot of time in Japan.
I didn’t just misters with Junior…we were friends…I’m not sure if the term accountability partner had been invented, but we were that…we were the same age, both married…he had 2 girls I had 2 girls and 2 boys…
I remember Junior telling me about the intense sexual culture of Japan…how vastly different it was than in Lawrenceburg…Tokyo isn’t the Lawrenceburg of the East…during this time men are almost expected to be promiscuous…it’s a given and wines were to be subservient and expect this lifestyle…into the this culture flew a country boy named Junior from Lawrenceburg who loves Jesus Christ, His wife, His family and the traditional values that made him a Godly leader…I know that in our time he zealously guarded that witness…He was open about the temptations, loneliness, and extreme pressure to be molded into this culture instead of protecting his own.
I thought of Junior as I read these words Paul wrote to the Thessalonians.
Read 1 Thessalonians 4: 1-8 (p836)
What is the goal of Godly Leaders…?
I LIVE A LIFE THAT PLEASES GOD
I shared Wednesday night with the group that’s studying Mark’s Gospel with Jeff…..There are four ways you can live your life…you can live…
1) A life of Reaction…We plod forward until something forces us to change directions…Most people live this life by default…we lose a job…we find another…we forfeit this relationship we look for another…It’s a dangerous way to live…going through the same motions over and over again until something forces us to deal with the curve…other live
2) A life of conformity. We live according to the view of the crowd…we float along the current of popular opinion…We allow appearance to be more important than what we believe….We thrive on being liked…it’s a dangerous way to live because “The easiest thing to be is you. The hardest thing to be is what others want you to be.”
(Author Leo Buscaglia)
Or you can choose the 3rd way to live.
3) A life of Independence…people who choose this life cherish the appearance of a rebel…the rejection of formal generations priorities…they’re trendy…distinguishable from the herd…until they get together with others just like themselves and they’re hard to tell apart…It’s a prideful, self delusional way to live...or as Paul says in our text…you can live.
4) A life of Intentionality…A life with purpose and direction….A life that pleases God…like Paul I believe we were created for this purpose…and somewhere along the line, and I’m not sure how old you will be or when God will ask. “Will you continue to live for yourself?...or will you live for me?
But Junior knew that living for God in a sexually, promiscuous society would require intentionality…a conscious decision to put God living above self-living.
The people in Thessalonians knew about living in a pagan, sexually promiscuous society where men could and would gratify themselves…it was expected. One of their teachers named Demosthenes wrote
“We keep prostitutes for pleasure; we keep mistresses for the day to day needs of the body, we keep wives for the bearing of children and for the faithful guardianship of our homes.”
Even among the Jews who theoretically held marriage in high esteem, divorce had become easy…the Deuteronomic law said a man could divorce his wife if he found “some uncleanness’” or a matter of shame” old school Rabbis became lax in their definition of “matters of shame”…there’s evidence and records that support divorces being granted “over a woman talking to loud”, “Disparaging her husband’s parents” and “putting too much salt in the meal”. Before you knew it any and every reason was accepted as a “matter of shame” so a husband could get a certificate of divorce.
It was to men and women who had come out of a society like that…and would still be required to live in it ever day of their lives…Junior could come home…the Thessalonians were home.
And remember they had only been Christians a very short period of time…possible just a month or so…Paul wrote these verses and we read them expecting Christian to behave in sanctified ways, moral ways…ways that humor our mate…it’s all brand new to these men and women.
[But can you imagine what begins to happen in the homes where real Christian men begin to control their bodies in “a way that is holy and honorable…and they begin to treat their wives as if they, “are becoming one flesh” Paul shared with the Ephesians these words…I bet they were part of. his teaching in Thessalonians also…