Thursday, January 26, 2012

Turning from idols

This Sunday, we’ll finish up our three week series on turning away from the idols in our lives and back to God. The basic truth of each sermon is this: when we trade the worship of the one true God for the worship of idols, we find ourselves open to behavior that we once wouldn’t have even thought possible. When we take the gifts of God and turn them into little "g" gods, we basically find ourselves in charge, and history has shown we make absolutely horrendous masters. Pastor and author Tim Keller gives several examples of how this happens in his book, The Reason for God (see pages 275-276).  I’ve listed a few of his examples below, a couple of which I've expanded upon.

  • If you center your life and identity on pleasure, you’ll find yourself addicted to the very pleasures you seek. You’ll ignore the fact that you are destroying your family and hurting your church in the process or the fact that you perpetuate a system of indulgence in our world that makes sex slaves out of the most vulnerable among us.
  • If you center your life on making money, you’ll be a workaholic with no deep relationships, you’ll be boring and shallow. You'll be willing to do unethical things to maintain your lifestyle, which will eventually blow up your life. You’ll kill the joy and life of your family all in order to “make a living.” 
  • If you center your life and identity on your family and children, you will try to live your life through your children until they resent you or have no self of their own. At worst, you may abuse them when they displease you. Meanwhile, you’ll insult and injure others who dare forget that your family comes first. 
  • If you center your life and identity on relationships and approval, you will be constantly overly hurt by criticism and thus always losing friends. You will fear confronting others and therefore will be a useless friend. 
  • If you center your life and identity on a "noble cause," like being a Republican or being a Democrat, or even simply being an American, you will divide the world into "good" and "bad" and demonize your opponents. Ironically, you will be controlled by your enemies. Without them, you have no purpose. You’ll adopt a win at all cost mentality. 
  • If you center your life and identity on religion and morality, you will, if you are living up to your moral standards, be proud, self-righteous, and cruel. If you don't live up to your moral standards, your guilt will be utterly devastating and you’ll take it out on everyone around you.  
When we make gods of God’s gifts, we lose touch with the fact that the ends do not justify the means – and we’ll be willing to do almost anything in this life – or let others do such evil deeds for us. But, if we’ll make sure to keep the one true God, as the only God in our lives, we’ll constantly be aware that in order to worship a God of mercy and justice, we must practice those things as well. In other words, if we’ll make sure we’re being obedient to commandment number one, the other nine, will quickly fall into place. Jesus put it this way, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and everything else will be added unto you.”