I am broken as I write this post. We begin month #2 of FAITHdare focusing on idols, and as I have been praying over what God wants this month to look like, I am broken over the walls of idols I have erected around my heart. I am broken because I feel completely inadequate to write this post. So here I am, praying that the words on your screen are the words of the Spirit. That they are daggers to your soul, separating earthly flesh and desires from the deep spiritual reality in which Christ calls us all to live. I desperately plead with you to commune with God this month, to spend the time wrestling with God over the heart issues He exposes in you. Please know that I come to you broken, a sinner saved by grace, seeking to obey God...just like you. We are in this journey together.
We all have idols. Maybe not the kind found in the old testament, shaped like a calf or made out of gold, but we all have them. Our God is a jealous God, and He demands that we be pure in spirit. That we keep HIM on the throne of our hearts. And yet it seems like day after day He is dethroned from my heart by lesser gods. The sad thing is, I think most of the time I like to BELIEVE that He is on the throne. But a lot of the time I don't live like He is. My priorities say that other things, other people are more important than my Savior. In the end, my idolatry hurts only me.
C.S. Lewis said, "We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
We are far too easily pleased, friends. We think somehow we are getting shortchanged out of a fun life when Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love HIM with everything we are. We think we are missing out when Jesus says, "leave everything you have and follow me," and when God sets high standards for holy living. But are we really missing out? Is there really any satisfaction outside of relationship with Jesus? Any hope?
I pray this month is a journey for you, a journey to a vacation by the sea. Along the way, though, you will have to get rid of your mud pies. It will be painful, it will be difficult, and most people will not understand. We need to remember that we are living our best lives later. I'm not talking about next year. Or in an extravagant retirement. I'm talking about heaven. We do not live as those who have no hope! If this world was all there was...if the slum was all there was...we would spend our days making mud castles. We would live for comfort and safety and extravagance. But this world is nothing but a blip on the radar, a passing phantom. We cannot afford to waste this life on comfort and safety and extravagance when there are billions of people who are on the road to eternal separation from Jesus. However, we CAN afford to give up everything, including the worthless idols lining the halls of our hearts...because we have the promise of eternity and eternal reward, the day at the beach that far surpasses the mud pies of the slum. I think it's time to do some mud pie squashing.
Over the next couple of weeks, we will be specifically focusing on three different idols that I think prevail over most in today's culture: Relationships, ambitions (often in the form of safety and security), and possessions. This week, however, I want us to focus on uncovering our idols.
1) Watch the video at the bottom of this post. If you feel so led, watch it a second time with your family (or prayer partner). This message is not on the topic of idols, but I think it deals with some common idols.
2) Do the work of wrestling with God over this issue. Maybe these questions will help: How do you spend the majority of your time? To whom do you take your needs and desires? What (or who) do you have in your life that you could not live without? Do you attribute thankfulness to the One who has given you every good and perfect gift? If so, how often? Would you be willing to leave everything and everyone in your life to follow Jesus if He asked you to today? When you read the account of the rich man (Matthew 19:21-23), do you find yourself relating to the rich man and feeling sad? Would you be able to do what Jesus asks the rich man to do?
3) Create a thankful habit. Hang with me for a minute. Hosea 2: 8-9, in comparing our unfaithfulness to God with the unfaithfulness of an adulterous wife to her husband, says: "She [the prostitute, or YOU and ME] has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold--which they used for Baal. Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens, and my new wine when it is ready..." The prostitute's husband provided good things for his wife to enjoy and utilize, and yet she neither acknowledged his generosity nor gave him the thanks he was due. Instead, she idolized the things provided rather than he, the provider. God has provided good gifts for us to enjoy and with which to fulfill our needs. Too often, though, we do not acknowledge God's goodness in providing those gifts, and sometimes we even become so enraptured with the gift itself that we forget God is the one who gave it to us! We spend the money we make without a second thought, effectively forgetting to even acknowledge God's goodness in providing for our needs. We frivolously enter into and leave relationships without realizing that God has allowed and ordained those relationships. We take EVERYTHING for granted! I believe God gives us good gifts in relationships and possessions SO THAT it drives us back to Him...with thanksgiving and worship. People of God, the culture in which we live tells us we deserve at least 78 years of life, the jobs we have, the houses we live in, the friends and family we spend time with, and so on. WE DO NOT DESERVE ANYTHING. And yet, we are children of a generous God who provides for our most basic needs and so much more. Don't you think it's time we at least acknowledge His part in providing everything we have? I cannot emphasize this enough...WE NEED TO RECOUNT HIS GOODNESS OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Once a year is not enough, nor is once a week or even once a day. We must be continuously seeking to enter His presence with thanksgiving in order to prevent the things and people around us from becoming more important than Him. We are too vulnerable to idol erecting to not take this issue more seriously. SOOOO...the challenge is to create a thankful habit. Be creative with this. I want you to develop a way in which you are recounting God's faithfulness at least once a day. That may mean starting a thankful journal where you write down one thing you are thankful for each day. For me, that means creating a thankful jar.
God had His people build stone altars to remember His faithfulness. I like the visual reminder, so I have decided to do something similar. I took a clear vase (or you could use a jar or whatever you have) and will place a rock in it every day after writing on the rock a reminder of how God was faithful to me that day. Maybe you have your own creative way of installing "thankfuls" throughout your day...Please share it!
As always, please share any thoughts or ideas with the group!