(Three of God’s great gifts to me…)
‘You know when God seems to place a word or idea everywhere you look?
That’s how it’s been with me and repentance. I’m still thinking about it, especially while we’re still studying the book of Judges.
It’s not easy to repent of idolatry because it’s not easy to spot idols.
I want to share the 2 questions that help me to identify the idols that lure me away from Jesus:
- What will make everything better?
In my private thought-life, from moment to moment, what do I really think will satisfy my cravings, heal my wounds, and save the day? This is my hope; it’s what I think will rescue me. If it is not Jesus, it is an idol and it will not rescue me the way I think it will. I find that I often rely on Comfort, Achievement, or Affirmation to make everything better.What is it for you?
- What makes you feel oppressed and crushed?Interestingly, every time the Israelites worshiped another nation’s gods, that nation enslaved and crushed them – often for years. Instead of quickly identifying their idolatry as the cause of their infliction, they often immersed themselves further into idol worship. Perhaps they were hoping that the idols would make everything better (sound familiar?). Could their idols reach out and save them? No. Instead, the opposite occurred: the hand of their oppressor WAS the hand of their idol.
I considered this pattern and did some soul searching: What consumes me? What stresses me out? What crushes my passion for Christ and joy for living? My answers often lead me to an idol. For example, sometimes I feel stressed-out, over-worked, over-stimulated, and over-committed to goals, ideals, and tasks. Under all of that oppression is my longing for Achievement. I want Achievement so badly that I’ll surrender many things to its appetite. Yet, I always feel overwhelmed by its demands and I can never quite grasp Achievement sufficiently.The worst part is that when I’m fixated on Achievement, the gifts God has given me seem like obstacles and distractions instead of, well, gifts.
It took me days to meditate on these questions and prayerfully repent. I used Psalm 51 as a guide, reminding me that God loves a broken and contrite heart. I hope I’ll continue to live in repentance, constantly turning away from the world and turning toward Jesus.
You’ll love the model of the Apostle Paul’s repentance: he said that his serious addiction to self-righteousness, false piety, appearance, and achievement were garbage compared to worshiping and knowing Jesus. (You can read about it in Philippians 3:4-11). He’s right: when we repent of idols, we not only cast aside the worldly destractions, but we also gain the joy of treasuring Christ. We realized that there is no comparison.
When Jesus is on the rightful throne of my heart, all is well.
I’m sharing this with you in hopes that you may enjoy a time of repentance, too. Will you let me know about it?