Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Subtle Idols

Sometimes the greatest danger for the Christian life is not from bad things, but from good things that are blown out of proportion. The clearly bad things are much easier to identify and deal with. We make ironclad rules to protect ourselves. But then we feel that as long as we stay within those boundaries, we are safe. And if someone points out that things that are not clearly bad are out of proportion in our life, it is easy to dismiss them as an unreasonable legalist. Or we can over react and attempt to banish that good thing out of our life altogether and even urge others to do the same. C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, states that there is a distorted view of morality which cannot abide abstaining from something without forcing everyone else to also abstain from it. But the question comes, how do I get the good things in my life in perspective? And the answer to this is to put God in the center of our lives.   

We are told to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind (Deuteronomy 6:4,5; Matthew 22:36-40). We are told that the first step away from God is to reject the knowledge of God and put something else in its place (Romans 1:18-23). We are told greed amounts to idolatry (Colossians 3:5). (Greed here probably involves more than greed for money, although that is certainly involved. It involves the desire to pile up more and more of anything, putting that thing in the place of God.) Idolatry is therefore putting anything, even a good thing, in the center of our life rather than God.

The problem we encounter here is that these good things do have a legitimate place and importance in our lives. And this makes it harder to see when they are out of perspective. If alcohol or pornography becomes what our life is centered around, we immediately identify it as wrong. But if work or family or even ministry starts to take the place of God Himself as our focus, it can creep in slowly, often without being noticed. Therefore, it is important for us to be on the alert that we do not allow other things to make their way into the center of our life. And we must continuously remind ourselves of the cross, where God invaded history to deliver us from sin (Romans 5:6-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:13-15). For our love for God is a response to His love for us (1 John 4:19; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15; 2 Peter 1:9). And as we grow in love for God and in an understanding of His greatness (Proverbs 1:7; Isaiah 44:6-8; 40:12-26), we can avoid putting something else in the center of our lives. For when we put anything else in the place that belongs only to God, though it may look good in the beginning, in the end it always leads to destruction (Romans 1:24-32).

No comments:

Post a Comment