Friday, July 22, 2011

Marks of Idolatry

How do I know when something is becoming an idol in my life?
--When one or more Christians who know me well warn me about it.
--When I want it with me 24 hours a day.
--When I think about it repeatedly as I'm drifting off to sleep.
--When I feel compelled to do it or to use it.
--When I check on it the first thing in the morning, the last thing at night, even though nothing bad would happen if I didn't check on it.
--When it crowds out the time that should belong to my family and my God and my neighbors.
--When I begin to think of myself in terms of "I'm a ________ person."
--When I feel powerless to control it.
--When I show it off repeatedly to all of my friends.
--When I'm embarrassed by how much time and money and pain and effort I've spent on it.

Little children, guard yourselves from idols.
--1 John 5:21


dfish said...

Some great tests for identifying an idol. How often I let things get such control. Thanks for the reminder.

Sreedhar Jeshurun said...

Hi greetings I visited this blog by clicking on the next blog button on mu blog.It's so interesting to hear the Bible techings in poetic form.

Kingdom Blessings!
Sreedhar Jeshurun

Jim Swindle said...

Thank you, dfish, for the encouragement.
And thank you, Sreedhar Jeshurun for visiting my blog. May the Lord use you in your work in India.

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

All your points well made, but the first needs qualification: not just any Christian, maybe not even a Christian who knows me well, but a Christian who is a follower of Jesus, whatever else he is, and who speaks because He speaks, that is the Christian who may warn me about my idols.

I say this because I was crucified by my best friend, with whom I shared everything material and spiritual without reserve, only to be 'warned' that I was going off the path, and that it would cost me his friendship.

What was I guilty of? He claims that I was worshipping the Church, instead of Christ, that I had made it my idol. I did not defend myself, but loving the Church and being unwilling to criticise it constantly, is what I am guilty of. Being able to show patience with it and longsuffering, and to pray for it when I see it is taking a wrong turn, but not abandoning it because of its sinful members or even because it may hold to doctrines I don't accept, that is what he was accusing me of, and calling me to repent of.

All this, even when I defended him even when I knew he was in the wrong, because I trusted God to enlighten him at the right time, in the right way, with me or without me. I still trust Him to do that, but I will let God defend me, not myself.

Idols, yes, I have had a few, and I may never give up the idol entirely that is my own will, but I try every day to deconstruct what I want, so that Christ can construct in me what He wants.

"When I want it with me 24 hours a day…" yes, there is that, and it is the Bible. I take a copy of it with me whenever I leave the house. I sometimes sleep with it in the crook of my arm after having been comforted by it, sleeping alone on my bed. Yet this Book is not my idol, because I know Whom it is I love, but more importantly, Who loves me.

In His presence, all idols fall flat on their faces, as the ancient Church sings in its hymns about the entry of the infant Jesus into Egypt. Whether or not this happened historically (the falling down of the idols), it is the truth nonetheless. Nothing unreal or defiled can stand in the presence of the Real and Undefiled, the Faithful and the True Witness, who reveals the Father to us, and makes us share with Him His table and His throne.

Jim Swindle said...

Romanós, I did not know of that great pain in your life. My heart aches with yours. In writing the list, I was thinking more of my own sins than of the sins of others. As for whether you are guilty of idolatry in a particular area, the Lord knows far better than I. As near as I can tell, you are a genuine believer in Jesus; a man who loves the Lord Jesus of the Bible more than anything or anyone else. I can't say that of very many people.
I don't always agree with what you write, and I don't harbor illusions that you are already perfect. Still, the Lord has spoken to me through you several times. You have challenged and corrected me. I'd like to some day have as much spiritual maturity in some areas as you do.
May the Lord grant you a heart full of love and forgiveness toward those who have wounded you the most, and may he grant you wisdom concerning how to relate to your church. It's right to love any church that qualifies for that holy name--including some churches that, like some in the New Testament, are still immoral and impure in a number of ways. Where do we draw the line between a real church and something that's called a church, but isn't? I'm not completely sure. I'm merely sure that my spirit says you're a real Christian...yet that I should preach to you, as to myself, that we should strive to make our calling and election sure.