Can you guess what the top ten phobias of all time are?
10. Fear of holes
9. Fear of flying
8. Fear of germs
7. Claustrophobia-fear of small spaces
6. Fear of thunder and lighting
5. Fear of dogs
4. Fear of open or crowded spaces
3. Fear of heights
2. Fear of snakes
1. Fear of spiders-Remember that movie, Arachnophobia?
We all have some sort of fear. Fear of crowds, fear of the future, fear about the future of our loved ones, the list goes on and on. With all of the turmoil our Nation has been in over the past several months, something that’s been said more than once is, “Jesus needs to come soon.” It’s interesting, in the Bible, one of the fears the Thessalonians had was the state of those who died before Jesus returned—would they miss out on the eternal blessings of heaven?
There is nothing new under the sun. Christians still have a preoccupation with when the Lord might return. Often our preoccupation is fueled by curiosity; but the Thessalonians preoccupation was fueled by severe adversity. They were facing resistance, ridicule, and shaming from surrounding society because of their faith in Christ. Paul was concerned that these forces of darkness might cause them to turn away from Christ. But he was delighted to hear they stood firm in faith.
The forces of darkness remain a real and present danger. But, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 takes the fright out of our fear with a bold and bright exhortation: It reads, “Don’t be afraid of the dark but live faithfully for the light of the Day.” The light of the Day is the Day of the Lord.
The Day of the Lord is the day of Jesus’ return, that is His Second Coming which Paul previously discussed. Rather than elaborate on the “when” of this Day, 1 Thessalonians 5 focuses on the “how” of the Day—how we should live in light of it’s coming. We should live faithfully for the light of this glorious day. Where do you start? You start with identity which is always the starting point for New Testiment instruction on Christian living.
As Christians, we embrace our identity as “children of the light.” This is your story as a Christian. This is where you derive your value and worth. You are a child of light as one who is in Christ. This is a matter of position, not performance. You didn’t qualify yourself. The Father qualified you.
You didn’t qualify for it based on your performance and if your performance didn’t qualify you; it can’t disqualify you either! In Thessalonica, like many other cities under Roman occupation, people were basing their identity in the peace and security of political policy. We would do well to remember that no politician or political party can provide the peace and security of Christ. Let’s not misplace our hope as children of light. Don’t be afraid of the dark, because we’re children of the light.
As children of the light, God calls Christians to live soberly. As children of the light, we live with moral and spiritual sobriety. Sometimes sober can have the connotation of stoic. It doesn’t mean boring. It means living in a state of readiness.
Know your identity, live soberly, and rest in your destiny. Our destiny, as children of the light isn’t destruction, but deliverance. The aim is to encourage and to motivate Christians to live faithfully for the light of the Day. It accomplishes this by lifting their eyes from the present distress to their glorious future deliverance. This deliverance is the fruit of Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross.
Jesus died for us.
On the cross, Jesus experienced the Father’s wrath. He took the punishment we deserved. He experienced separation from God so that we don’t have to experience eternal separation from his presence.
Where is your destiny? Have you come to repentance? Have you ever come to that point when in faith you have said to the Lord something like this: Lord Jesus, I confess that apart from you I am dead in sin. I need your forgiveness. I believe that you died on the cross for my sins and rose again so that I might live with you. Forgive me, and cleanse me. As best as I know how, I turn my life over to your care and control.
If you have or just did now, you are a child of light. You don’t need to fear the dark, but live faithfully for the light of the day. You can rest in your new destiny. But know this: we aren’t passive as we wait for the light of the day. We have a responsibility to others we must exercise. The question is who exercises this responsibility? Whose responsibility is it?
It’s all of us. We share in this responsibility together. The responsibility is two-fold. We need to encourage one another.
Life is hard. We can’t make it on our own; and we have to build one another up.
Folks, we can’t encourage one another and build each other up if we’re disengaged from worship, fellowship, and service. The more we gather together the stronger we become. Conversely, if we shirk on our commitment to Christian community, we are prone to becoming spiritually lethargic and dull. If we neglect this privilege, we hinder our growth and the growth of the church. Exercise your responsibility and privilege. It will help us all to live faithfully for the light of the Day.
Today your destiny can change. Today you can walk from the darkness into the light. Jesus came into our darkness so we can walk into the light. Once we come into the light, we grow together in the Light and wait for His glorious return.