Tuesday, February 02, 2010

No Idols

Want to know what drives people’s lives? Ask to see their checkbook, look at the history of websites they frequent, study their calendar and appointments, ask how they handle both joy and disappointments, who they blame when things go wrong, and inquire about what they dream about in times of solitude (especially those things they think will make them happy). Do that and you’d get a pretty good picture of what’s most important in that person’s life.

So, let me ask you a question. If I took a look at your spending history, the websites you go to, how you spend your time, how you handle joys and disappointments, who you blame when things go wrong, and what you believe will truly make you happy …what would I discover about you?

For a lot of people there life is driven by their kids. Some by whom they’re dating. Career consumes many. Sex is a huge drive. Accumulation of stuff is high on many lists. Some are addicted to food. Some to therapy. Many have to keep busy because the quiet drives them crazy.

God tries to speak into our lives. He’s saying. “I want to be more important than anything or anyone else in your life. Don’t make anything else a substitute for me.

And He gives us a commandment. It’s #2 on the list.

"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 …"

In other words … No idols.

This get s tricky. Most of us haven’t fashioned a golden calf out of melted gold. And yet we create idols in more subtle ways.

Let me give you some examples. The other day I went to a meeting that was held on the 45th floor of a high rise in downtown Chicago. Everything about the law office screamed success and prestige. Every furnishing said money and taste.

And I wanted it. I wanted success, prestige, money and good taste. This was the good life. It was hard to get it out of my head.

I have known people who frequent singles bars. Why? They were lonely, wanted to find a sexual partner, wanted to feel alive, wanted to forget, wanted love, and craved friendship and entertainment. And the quest for such things drove their life.

I know people who live for their favorite sports team. Their house is painted the color of their favorite team. They talk sports all day every day with sports radio on in their car and ESPN on their TV. They’re consumed by sports.

I know people who shop when they’re depressed. When they’re feeling better they shop because they’re happy. When they pick up a newspaper they go first to the ads. They want to look good, have the best and be trendy. It’s how they measure success.

I know people who are into helping the poor. They do good deed after good deed after good deed. They’re compassion junkies. Always looking for the next fix.

But there’s a problem. An idol is anything more important to you than God, anything which absorbs your head, heart memory and imagination more than God. It's anything you believe will give you more of what only God can give. And God is warning us about those things.

An idol is whatever you look at and say, in deep in your being, “If I have that, then I’ll know my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, and then I’ll feel significant and secure. Then I'll be happy."

And God says I want to give your life meaning. I want to show you how valuable you are. In a relationship with me you’ll find the real significance and security and joy you're seeking. Not in anything else. That’s why I don’t want anything or anyone else to stand in the way.

We all have idols. And we give to idols what God wants. Our love, our trust, and our obedience. And God wants our love, trust, and our obedience because He knows it’s good for us. It makes a difference in our lives. It’s not because His ego needs to be stroked.

So, do you ever live with the tension created by the 2nd commandment?

God says. No idols. I’m wrestling with it.

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