Posts Tagged idolatry
The introduction is now online for Tim Keller’s next book, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters. It will be published in October 2009.
This introduction is absolutely worth reading. Like his most recent book, The Prodigal God, this one should be very helpful.
HT: Justin Taylor
This past Sunday, we talked about Authenticity, which is being comfortable with who you actually are. As the father who’s trying to raise two girls to be authentically comfortable in their own skin, I think quite a bit about what culture says to women about what’s important. Many people — both men and women — struggle deeply with appearance issues. It’s easy to idolize a certain kind of look or body shape. One thing that can be helpful is to realize that many of the images and people we see and admire for their impeccable beauty or figure are not real. They look that way because of unnatural surgery, simple Photoshop editing, or other tips and tricks that fool the eye (or camera). When you realize that much of it is pretend, it frees you to not worry about living up to an unrealistic standard — after all it is unrealistic.
The following video that was produced as part of the Dove Evolution campaign provides an interesting look into this. I want to teach my girls that they are defined by what Jesus thinks of them and that basing their identity is like shadow-boxing, where you just can’t win.
Tim Keller has really helped me develop a deeper understanding of the gospel and of idolatry. In this masterful message from the recent Gospel Coalition, he unpacks how Paul confronted the idols of his day with the gospel.
What would your life look like if it was summarized with just one sentence?
I’ve been reading 1-2 Kings and it strikes me that each of the kings of Judah and Israel often have their whole lives summarized in just a sentence. And the sentence is usually one of these two things:
1. “Did evil in the sight of the Lord” (see 1 Kings 15:34, 16:19, 16:30, etc)
2. “Did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (see 1 Kings 15:11, 2 Kings 15:3, 18:3, etc)
Now, what is the determining factor? Is this simply taking all the good and bad things of the person’s life and weighing them on a scale (which is how many people think eternal life is determined)?
As you read the stories, what you realize is that the issue had everything to do with the heart. The kings did evil in the sight of the Lord by turning away from God in their hearts, trusting idols, and leading people to do the same. On the other hand, some kings did what was right in the eyes of the Lord by having an undivided heart for the the Lord and leading others to be faithful to God.
It’s good to think about the details of your life, but if it had to be summarized with just a sentence how would your life be described? Do you have an undivided heart for Jesus or are you really living for other things?
Each of us is living for something. We each have something that motivates us and drives us. This could also be described as your identity. What makes you who you are? What defines you?
In his excellent book, The Reason for God, Tim Keller makes the point that the essence of sin is basing your identity on anything but God. In the “Notes” section of the book he gives some great examples of how centering your life on other things will destroy you (pp. 275-276). I’d encourage you to read the list, look for these idolatrous identities in your own life, and repent if necessary.
- If you center your life and identity on your spouse or partner, you will be emotionally dependent, jealous, and controlling. The other person’s problems will be overwhelming to you.
- 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.
- If you center your life and identity on your work and career, you will be a driven workaholic and a boring, shallow person. At worst you will lose family and friends and, if your career goes poorly, develop deep depression.
- If you center your life and identity on money and possessions, you’ll be eaten up by worry or jealousy about money. You’ll be willing to do unethical things to maintain your lifestyle, which will eventually blow up your life.
- If you center your life and identity on pleasure, gratification, and comfort, you will find yourself getting addicted to something. You will become chained to the “escape strategies” by which you avoid the hardness of life.
- 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,” 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.
- 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 standards your guilt will be utterly devastating.
May we be people who center our lives on the love and grace of Jesus Christ for us!
In preparation for our first sermon series, I’m studying the Gospel of Mark. This past week I came across this quote by Rebecca Pippert that I think is quite important:
“What does it mean, then, to allow Jesus to be Lord of our lives?…Just this: whatever controls us is our lord. The person who seeks power is controlled by power. The person who seeks acceptance is controlled by the people he or she wants to please. We do not control ourselves. We are controlled by the lord of our life. If Jesus is our Lord, then he is the one who controls, he has the ultimate power. There are no bargains. We cannot manipulate him by playing ‘let’s make a deal.’ If he is Lord, the only option open to us is to do his will, to let him have control. [Of course] Jesus remains Lord whether we accept him or not. His lordship, his essence, is not affected by what we choose. But our lives are drastically changed by our choice.”
There is nothing sweeter and better than surrendering your heart to Jesus and acknowledging his moment-by-moment control of your life.
As a follow up to my post on Idolatry as a Joy-Killer, I wanted to refer you to this post by my friend and fellow church planter, Chris Gonzalez. He is planting Tempe City Church, will also be part of the Acts29 Network, and is a dear brother who loves Jesus, mission, and the supremacy of God over all things.
His post, “Idols of the Heart,” has some helpful resources that you’ll want to take a look at as you seek to fight for joy in Christ.
Click here to submit your answer to the question, “What do you think are things that kill people’s joy?”
The previous post in this series on “Joy-Killers” was about sin. Today we go just a little bit deeper with another big joy-killer: IDOLATRY.
This gets at the question, “Why do we sin?” After all, if sin is a joy-killer, we should just stop it — right? Yes, that is right, but the question remains…”Why can’t I stop sinning?” I think the answer is “Because of idolatry.” Webster defines “idolatry” as “immoderate attachment or devotion to something.” It is our immoderate attachments or our over-desires — sometimes even for good things — that lead us to disobey God with our actions. Sinful behavior is always preceeded by idolatrous desire.
What are the key idols we face? Here is a brief list that has helped me tremendously:
- People’s approval
- Power or influence
I find that if I ask myself, “Why did I do or say that sinful thing?” the answer is usually found on that list.
This list is helpful because it gets deeper than we normally think. For instance, most people would say that money is an idol. However, when you think about it, you realize that people want money for different reasons. Some want it to impress people, some to have an easy life, and others to be able to influence key people. So, if you are struggling with the love of money, it won’t help to just try to stop loving money. You need to first understand the idol that is gripping your heart and leading you to love money. Only when we repent of these deeper idols with gospel-truth (i.e. “I don’t need people’s approval because in Jesus I have the only person’s approval who really matters”) will we see lasting change and growing joy.