If you were watching TV in the 1980’s, surely you remember the Old Milwaukee commercials where the guys were sitting around the campfire drinking that mediocre beer and saying, “Fellas, it just doesn’t get any better than this.” My recent trip around YouTube tells me that there have been some fine parodies made since that time, among them Will Ferrell holding a can of OM and quoting the slogan, and then saying, “Well, there was the birth of my first child…and then there was my first view of the Grand Canyon…” You get the idea.
But I’ve got to assume that the ad campaign was successful, for at least us old-timers remember it, and yet, I don’t think it was enough to keep Old Milwaukee in competition, for I personally haven’t seen an ad for the beer in a coon’s age.
We have our ideas about what is the “best thing in life”, that is, what is really living. At West Point, they made some of us plebes memorize a saying – I believe from the Conan the Barbarian movie – which was an answer to this question: “What is the best thing in life?” I still remember the answer our platoon belted out:
“Sir, the best thing in life is to destroy the enemy, see him scatter before you, and hear the cries and lamentations of his women.”
By the way, are you feeling edified yet today? If not, try the Apostle Paul’s view of the best thing in life:
For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 3:8 (ESV)
Paul loved this church at Thessalonica, and feared that they were not doing well, so when Timothy sent the report that all was sailing along smoothly, the Apostle was overjoyed. The New American Standard adds a word that seems appropriate:
For now we really live…
And you know why Paul felt so strongly about this? Well, yes, they were in a sense his life’s work, that is, among the other churches he had planted. But I think Paul was overjoyed that they were doing well for more than just professional reasons. No, no — he was over the top because eternity was on the line. And if they were doing well, it was a sign that they were truly believers…and going to heaven. And there is truly nothing better than knowing people you love are secure forever.
The Apostle John matches Paul’s enthusiasm when he thinks of his own followers:
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 4 (ESV)
These two greats of the early church teach us a lesson about what is truly valuable: eternity. It’s interesting that Jesus wanted the disciples to feel the same about their own lives, when He said…
Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20 (ESV)
The upshot is this: heaven is what we need to be excited about.
And as for me, like many others, I can truly feel Paul and John’s passion when I think of my own children, the ones who, along with my sweet wife, I love so very, very much.
When I know that my kids are doing well spiritually, I guess you could say that sitting around a campfire drinking beer isn’t even in the same universe.
For Wednesday, August 19th: 1 Thessalonians 4