Some verses to remember
You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them
Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold
1 Samuel 15:23
For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
A definition to ponder…
That on which the affections are strongly (often excessively) set; an object of passionate devotion; a focus of your attention; anything that draws you away from God.
A question to truthfully consider…
What are the idols in your life?
We no longer carve our idols out of stone or cast them out of Gold. No, the idols we have today are far more dangerous. They come better disguised. We don’t physically bow down to them and set them on alters – but they are the attention of our focus, our worship, our adoration. Some of them, when we think about it, are pretty obvious. Let’s take a look at our live in regards to…
The list could go on and for each individual it will be different. Where is your security? Is it in God or in the things you do? In your work, your ability to earn money, the title you have, the power you yield, the influence you have, the lives you control? Where is your focus? Is it on God or on your family or your friends? What do you spend your time doing? Do you spend it with God or playing on the computer, watching television, playing sport? What is the focus of your concern? Is it the things of God, how you can serve Him better, how you can draw closer to Him or is it on your health, your family, you career, your education, your debt, your possessions? When was the last time you spent a couple of hours watching a good film, engrossed in a great book or watching some sporting event? Yesterday? Last week? My guess is that it won’t have been too long ago. And when was the last time you spent a couple of hours with God? I’m not letting you off the hook here and including going to church, or reading the Bible, or reading a Christian book, or doing God’s work in the community. I’m talking about spending time in God’s presence, listening, seeking, dwelling, soaking. Yesterday? Last week? Last year? Never?
Thankfully my life is so perfect that I spend every minute with God… he says choking on every word. This challenge is far more pointed at me than anyone else. However, as I think it all through perhaps one or two of you might think along with me. If you can honestly say that you have made good progress in putting God first, making him the real focus of your life I’d love to hear from you – you have much I could learn from. I mean that in all honesty – when we find real tangible ways to put God first, to remove idols from our lives we need to share and encourage others. The Christian life is hard, there is no two ways about it. Let us share our struggles but also our successes. Not to brag or to build ourselves up but to share the recipe for success with others to build them up and draw each other closer to God.
Now, the idols I’ve mentioned so far are fairly obvious when we think about them. I just want to mention some that I believe are more veiled and in some ways, therefore, far more dangerous. You may well disagree with me, in fact, please do!! Let me know what you think. I’m wanting to help people think through these issues alongside me so I’ll just put them out there and see what you think…
Church Building projects
Feeding the poor
Now I guess some of you are now thinking that I’ve totally lost the plot, but bear
with me. Now, most of the things I’ve listed are good and honourable things to do and have a place in the lives of most Christians. And there is the rub, they do have a place, a rightful place but are they in their rightful place in our lives. Are they in the right place or have we elevated them? Where is the focus of our church is it on God or has it become skewed? Has the building project taken over that focus? Has the sermon become the focus of our service and not God himself? Have we subtly, over time changed our focus from God onto His word. Did we start off the community project as part of our worship of God but in fact it is now all consuming and we now live for the community project? Has the grace of God in our lives become more important than God in our lives? These are subtle things. It’s easy to convince ourselves that we are working for God, when in fact we are now just working. Surely reading God’s work is one of the best things we can do? However, we can’t put the cart before the horse. We can’t raise the Bible to a position above that which it was meant. The Bible is a tool to point us towards God. It is a wonderful, mystical, marvellous thing for of truth and wisdom and inspiration but Bibliolatry is still idolatry.
We need to be so careful. We need others around us to speak into our lives and keep them on line. We need wise people from outside our churches to examine them and see if they are continuing to keep the main thing the main thing. It only takes a little nudge, a human perspective and not God’s to take us miles away from where we should be. A small shift in focus one day can mean being totally out of focus from then on. Join me in this discussion and in praying that we would be able to identify the idols in our lives and have the strength to do something about them. Pray that you would have wise people around you that you can be accountable to and who can and will speak into your lives. Let us fix our eyes on the creator and sustainer of our faith and keep them there!!