idols in the heart

10.03.2012 |

i have been sipping on twenty ounces of coffee for the past 5 hours.  it's cold.  i'm dehydrated. i want it, but i don't want it.  there is a microwave 200 feet away from me, but my desire to move pales in comparison to my complacency at this table.  throughout the morning, i have had friends pop in and out of starbucks as if i lived here (not at all that unrealistic of an assumption). i have been thinking about idols in the heart for quite some time.  hannah showed me some notes she had taken on idols and how idols don't necessarily have to be something visible to everyone.  it can be a splinter in the heart and if left unattended to, it will get infected and cause more damage.  yesterday a group of friends and i were discussing various biblical topics, opinions, and plans for fall break. in the midst of these conversations, i mentioned ezekiel 14 and things have snowballed ever since.

if we start in ezekiel 14, it is very clear that there are consequences to worshipping idols.  idol worship pollutes us to the nth degree and we are incapable of removing the stain by our own accord.  "well, i definitely don't worship cows and i have never bowed to a totem pole, so i think i'm good in that department renee."  now, i am not talking about hand-making some golden calf, setting it up in the middle of the chic-fil-a parking lot, and bowing down to it, publicly proclaiming greatness to the god of cows.  today, at least in america, that would be asinine and absolutely absurd.  surely we don't visually worship animals or fabrics or gold......or do we? internally?  anything that vies for attention and distracts us from the purpose of glorifying our Maker has the potential to be an idol in our lives: control, pleasure, money, clothes, pets, personal time, sports, power, jobs, iPhones! and other possessions, food, music, just to name a few.  these things in and of themselves are not bad, but when we spend more time pursuing and seeking them more than the Father, idolatry occurs.  in ezekiel, God allows his people to fall into sin after they have clearly abandoned the Lord.  people, this is no contradiction.  God allows sin to occur which usually means we end up in a bad position or unfortunate things can happen in our lives, meaning God is still in complete control; however, he doesn't cause us to sin.  instead, he allows us to choose the path we wander down.  through this all, God reminds us that he is the one in control and that he never stops being our God.

additionally, in daniel 5:23, daniel talks about the idolatry the king was committing.  the king was praising his money and his good fortune instead of the God who had richly blessed him.  it seems silly to read that the king is praising gold, silver, and bronze (i mean, seriously, who does that?); but, how often do we mindlessly spend money or how often do we withhold giving because you're not "financially stable?"  daniel points out that the gods that the king worshipped had no knowledge, couldn't hear, and couldn't see.  it is a dishonor to God when we elevate the things he has created and put those things in his rightful place. idolatry.  He is the one who has given us breath of life.  He is the one who controls our destiny.  daniel goes on to talk about strange writing that appeared on  the wall as a message from God in response to the king's actions.  our days are numbered here on earth. though we try, we cannot measure up to perfection.  we become divided in our relationships and our possessions get divided.  worshipping idols not only has eternal consequences if we fail to do anything about it, but it dishonors the very God who made you.

i especially adore psalm 115:1-8 and jeremiah 10:11-16.  the author of the psalm deliberately says that idols cannot talk, cannot see, cannot hear, cannot smell, cannot feel, cannot walk, and cannot utter a noise.  when we have idols in our heart, it blocks communication in its fullness to jesus.  we start to trust in our idols more than we trust in God.  eventually, we become exactly like our idols: unable to talk about the glory of the lord, blind to God's provisions, unable to hear the direction of the lord, numb to sin and God's comfort, immobile and stagnant, worthless and invaluable, powerless against attacks, useless and purposeless, dead and fruitless, essentially senseless, you become nothing.  these items/ideals become idols once formulated and manufactured in your heart.  these idols try and fail at filling the God-shaped hole in your heart.

finally, in 1 john 5:21, we are commanded to keep away from idols.  straight up guard your heart against idols, as proverbs 4:23 alludes to.  

now, i don't know where you stand in your walk with Christ.  i don't know the kinds of idols harbored in your heart or the struggles you face, but i can let you a little into my life.  i have committed idolatry in the past and i know i'll commit it in the future; however, guarding my heart against such actions and also recognizing that idolatry dishonors God points me in a faithful direction.  it is my aim to please God in all that i do– as a student, runner, teacher, friend, and daughter.  my desire for power and control is overwhelming, but letting God harness these ideals and translate them into positive forces for the kingdom of heaven is liberating.
"so put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.  have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires.  don't be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry.  God's terrible anger will come upon those who do such things. you used to do them when your life was still part of this world, but now is the time to get ride of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language." –colossians 3:5-8

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