Keep God At the Center
What do you think of when you hear the word "idol"? Maybe you think of a gold or wooden object that ancient people worshipped.
What about modern idolatry? In today's world, we are just as prone to idolatry as ancient times. Of course, we are much more sophisticated now. We don't carve wooden objects, place them on our fireplace mantles and bow down and worship them.
However, are there things that we value more than God? Is the Bible's teaching on idols relevant for us today?
It helps to define modern-day idolatry. When the Bible talks about idolatry, it can be any "functional God" which rules our hearts. It can be anything that we value, love or pursue more than God, and that want so bad that we are willing to sin to get.
As John Calvin put it, "The evil in our lives typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much."
Idolatry is the worst sin of all. We were made to worship and serve God, not live autonomous, self-directed lives. We are tempted to move God out of the center of our lives and put something else in his place. It gives glory to something other than God.
So how do we avoid idolatry and keep God at the center of our lives? Romans has some clues for us in how to do this.
"Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" Romans 5:20-21.
The fact that Jesus is reigning over all, means that grace is reigning over all. We have the power to resist idolatry because Christ is living in us and reigning over us.
As Romans 6:1-4 says, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."
Perhaps John Stott said it best: "The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are not just historical facts, but the experience of Christians. If we have died with Christ and risen with Christ it is inconceivable that we should go on in living in sin."
Through the challenges of every day life, our idols will be threatened, our hearts squeezed and inner motives exposed. But we have Jesus, and his Spirit's power to change. We can put to sin to death and refuse to worship anything but Christ. We can keep God at the center, and rid ourselves of anything that competes with God for supremacy in our hearts.
Of course we can't do this on our own. We need Jesus' help. Christ helps us keep God at the center.
Questions to identify potential heart idols:
- - What do I love and what do I hate?
- - What do you want, desire, crave, lust, wish for? Whose desires to you obey?
- - What do you seek, aim for, pursue? What are your goals and expectations?
- - What do you fear? What do you want? What do you tend to worry about?
- - What do you think you need? What are your felt needs?
- - Where do you find refuge, safety comfort?
- - Whom must you please? Whose opinion of you counts? From whom do you desire approval or fear rejection?