Back at the beginning of this blog series, I talked about how at times it would be hard to share that I was giving up something, because it would be admitting that I struggle with it. All of these have a hint of that struggle, but this one seems especially challenging. Who wants to say they struggle with idolatry?!?
When I first think of idolatry I think of the Old Testament picture we get of this where people literally would bow down to wooden or metal statues or items. They would keep certain things in their homes because they thought it appeased all these false gods. It all seems so foreign to us. But is it really?
While we may not get on our needs and literally bow down to our television or cell phone, how often, with our time and focus and energy, do we worship these created things? We may not collect all of our gold together and melt it down to create a giant cow, but like those in the Bible who did this, how easy it is to try to take things in our own hands when we feel like God isn’t coming through in the time frame WE think He should.
The picture of what an idol looks like has changed, but we are just as tempted to have them now as they were thousands of years ago. One thing that has helped me identify, and try to get rid of idols, came through the song “Clear the Stage” sung in the video below by Jimmy Needham. The bridge says this:
“Anything I put before my God is an idol.
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol.
Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol.
Anything that I give all my love is an idol.”
When you put it that way, suddenly I realize perhaps I have more idols than I’d ever like to admit. Occasionally, while hard, it is helpful to sit down and use these questions to ask God to open my eyes to the idols in my life.
What do we put before God? The list some days could be great.
What do I want with all my heart? What I find fascinating with this one is that some of the things I list for this one are also things that God wants with all his heart. Yet, even the pursuit of the things of God can become idols; my ministry can even become an idol, if my heart doesn’t long for Jesus even more that these things or if I try to do things on my own apart from God.
What are the things we can’t stop thinking of? Worry can be an idol. Perfectionism. Myself. What other people think of me. Fear. These things aren’t just “good things to give up” … they’re idols. I have to remind myself of that.
What do I give all my love? And this is where it all comes together… it’s about love. What will get my love and devotion and attention?
Jesus, clear the stage. Take that #1 place. I give up these idols and pray that you would give me faith to trust completely in You. Help me give you all my love!
In Jesus’ Name, Amen!