1 Corinthians 12:2 - You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led.
"Pagan" is an interesting word. It conjures up all sorts of things like five-pointed stars and religious ecstasy, hedonism and idolatry. One might think of a black-robed coven of witches practicing some secretive ritual deep in the woods. Perhaps Wicca, animism, or even Satanism come to mind.
In the apostle Paul's day, a pagan was a Gentile who was neither Christian nor Jew, and who followed one of the polytheistic or mystery religions in vogue during the first century, whether it was in Greece or Palestine. Greek pagan cults were well known for their prodigious idols and the magnificent temples that housed their gods. For sure, Paul had his work cut out for him in the wealthy and cosmopolitan metropolis of Corinth where paganism was in full swing.
Though paganism of the ancient Greek magnitude isn't the norm in North America, I wonder what the apostle would have to say about our current state of affairs. With all our high-tech sophistication, gadgetry, and amusements, we, like those who lived in a world of 10,000 gods, are tantalized on all sides -- often numbed to the things of the true God, saturated with the world and the self it so ably reinforces.
Paul himself was similarly preoccupied with worldly things at one time. He writes in Philippian 3:5-6 -- "circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as, to zeal, persecutor of the church; as, to righteousness under the Law, blameless" These are some exceptional credentials. Life is good, he must've thought. All my ducks are in a row, he mused, secretly adoring self and the "righteous" career path he was on.
Thanks be to God, those soul-deceiving burdens were stripped off his back, cast to the dung heap like so many idols.
He continues in Philippians 3:7-11. "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the Law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith -- that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead."
Lord, preserve us from the things that divert our attention from You -- in whatever form they may come.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, without the light of Your Son we are destined to follow one "idol" after another. Draw us to You by the power of the Holy Spirit and secure our hearts for Jesus. In His Name we pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber.
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