Friday, December 19, 2014

Idols & Grace for all...

When I think of Idols, I think of people worshiping statues or elevating a person or thing above God.  I never really assumed I would have idols in my life.  Or I guess I never thought about it too deeply.  When my daughter was born (yes, I see a lot of life's analogies in becoming a parent) my life shifted.  I use to spend my days at work, watching tv, shopping when I got bored, pampering, eating out at nice restaurants. Those things are few and far between now so when someone doesn't have kids, I say enjoy that life because it is sooo not about you anymore after becoming a parent.

Those things I did in my pre-parenting life aren't bad, and we all need a break from life with pampering, movies, entertainment, etc. but if you turn to those things to keep life filled up with things to do then that's when it turns into Consumerism and that can and is a big idol in our life if were not careful.

Consumerism is a popular idol in our society.  And it's one that is glorified almost patriotically.  If we are not careful being acquisitive (seeking to acquire more things, own greedily) can take place before seeking God.  The bible says you can not love God and money for you either love one or hate the other but you can not serve 2 gods. (mat 6:24)

That verse didn't really hit home until I started studying about the Babylonian, Roman, Egyptian empires and how in those empires, wealth and power are the objects to get.  They are what everyone works towards. Wealth and working hard are glorified.  When God delivered the Isrealites from Pharaoh's Eygpt he gave them the 10 commandments and put more emphasis on the Sabbath commandment the most. He gave them the 10 commandments to keep them from ordering their society around Pharoah's Eygpt. Which if you've ever read the 10 commandments, murder seems the worst but this is how important it was for God that he wanted the Isrealites to not follow the way of Egypt where your in work non-stop. To try and take command of your own dominion and wealth not only leaves no room to put faith in God to meet your needs but usually along with the desire of wealth comes power and greediness. They go hand in hand!  To desire to become powerful, greedy and wealthy is to follow the pagan way.  Without realizing it you can easily live to serve wealth and not God but think you are still serving God.

That is what happened with Isreal after God delivered them from Egypt and gave them the 10 commandments.  When they came upon the land of Canaan, Moses sits them down and like 30 chapters of Exodus, Moses warns them not to forget God when they take Canaan for Canaan was a prosperous, rich land.  Well I think you and I know exactly how the story goes afterwards, because we probably would've and still do, the same thing.  Of course the Isrealites enjoy the land and of course they act like they are serving God and honoring the Sabbath but then they start making a festival out of the Sabbath that requires more work and God knows their hearts weren't in the worship and they can't wait to get back to their work so they can prosper, prosper, prosper.  All the while putting God on the back burner but still needing Him to be on their side so they give Him (or so they think) the Sabbath.

God gets angry with them and tells them their worship was blasempous because they were serving another god: wealth.  To follow wealth, we start following the way of Pharaoh's pagan Eygpt without even realizing it.  Pharaoh always had the fear of scarcity, that Egypt was going to run out of supplies and food.  When you pursue wealth, you start noticing others around you. What they're wearing, how hard they are working, what latest trends they are on and you either perceive them as a "threat" as competition.  Not only that but the welfare of the other Human is not taking into perspective as much anymore.

The sum of the whole 10 commandments are actions taking toward the 2 commandments Jesus said to do: Love God with all your heart, and Love your neighbor as yourself.  When you serve money and wealth these 2 commands come in second, right?  Your main goal is no longer to help someone in need or put God first but to build more to your own empire and Jesus says that's wrong.  I'm not trying to point fingers at anybody because everything I passionately write about is something I've dealt with in my own heart.

One example lately that I've witnessed these things is my heart towards God.  I was not putting Him first I didn't even realize this until someone else did the same thing towards me.  My dad.  Just to tell you a little back story of our relationship.  My dad moved away when I was 9.  I've seen him over the years since then but now that I'm an adult those mediocre monthly phone calls about the weather and the fact that my dad hasn't seen his only grandchild yet just weren't cutting it anymore.  I needed more sustenance to our relationship or I just didn't see it going on any further.  I started seeing him using me as a way to ease his guilty conscience.  If he just had to call me every month and ask how the grand baby was doing then he was doing his fatherly duties.

This kind of relationship was okay with me until I had my own child.  And like I said being a parent starts putting everything into perspective for you sometimes.  I started thinking about introducing Ivey to this weird relationship and it kind of pained me to see her endure it as I was.  The mundane relationship with no depth and meaning just wasn't cutting it anymore and it was giving me anxiety.  I no longer knew my dad and he really never knew who I was.  This Thanksgiving I decided not to call him.  It pained me but then I thought "What's the use." It's kinda pointless. I felt guilty but I prayed.  I asked God why I felt like this.  I was suppose to be this being of Kindness and Grace but didn't want a pointless relationship sucking the life out of me.  But then as gently as a whisper God began speaking to my soul about how I and so many others were like that with him.

I was lukewarm.  The odd thing with this realization, I didn't feel any guilt or shame, only humbleness and awe (remember the HolySpirit will never guilt or shame you!) at how good God was and how weak I was.  Was I going to hell up until that point? No.  Was I a Christian before that, yes, thankfully because of Grace.  But in that moment, I felt how God felt towards us.  I sympathized at how annoying it is to be someone's guilty conscience reliever and it didn't feel good.  I wept.  I wept because of the beauty of Grace!

I know what Grace is.  I preach it all the time and it is so much easier for me to dish it out than it is for me to take it.  But until it's poured on your underserving soul it becomes that much tangible and almost so much you can't take it.  I just felt like that lady who was a sinner and how she washed Jesus' feet with her hair and her expensive perfume.  She was a lowly sinner and the disciples wondered why Jesus even let her in but she didn't care she just wanted to thank Him.  And Jesus was so honored and so touched by her humbleness because she knew she didn't deserve to do this very act but she couldn't resist.  I just wanted to sit at Jesus' feet and thank Him.

So many times other well meaning Christians and people say I should just give up on my dad.  It's been 20 years since he left and he has no intention of coming back.  But I can't.  I can't go back on Grace when it has been so abundantly poured out on me.  I can't hold back the Grace that has been given to me.  So many times we think we shouldn't be treated unfairly or we get mad that someone is taking away our rights as Christians.  We want to retaliate and show people were not weak.  But Jesus calls us to not pick up swords but to be Lambs among Wolves.  We are to give the Grace that God gives us back to our fellow man.  Back to those same 2 commandments.  So my dad doesn't deserve a relationship with me?  Probably true.  But what makes me any better than him?  I have used the same escape mechanism of getting what I want to put God on my side.  I give Him a little and the rest of the time I lean on Grace.  But just like I can't stand to be in a lukewarm relationship, God can't stand to be in a lukewarm relationship with us.  We keep him at arm's length and it's safe. We keep Grace at arms length and it feels good.  But too much, well that can just make people uncomfortable.

I've noticed along with this renewed passion I have at not being able to contain myself about God's goodness, I make other Christians uncomfortable.  More so than a lot of sinner for some reason.  I actually had a conservative Christian say to me "Well, you believe what you want to believe and I'll believe what I want."  WE LIKE BEING COMFORTABLE AND WE DON'T WANT TO BE AWAKENED! It feels good to be asleep. Believe me I don't judge them, I will always be looking for the plank in my own eye before seeing everyone's speck. I've been there too and it has made me unsettled before when others act like that.  I questioned the authenticity of them and I'm sure that's what people do to me.  But now I'm at the point where I don't care! I don't want idols of comfort and luxury in my life anymore.  They are really quite boring and they end up just lulling me to sleep. They leave me empty, filling up my days with meaningless pleasures and end up leaving me with less faith in God.

So I challenge you not in a condescending way but in a loving, I'm still fighting this flesh everyday sort of way to see if you have any hidden idols in your own heart.  Ask God to broaden your own horizon's and to think outside the box.  To think outside what this society tells you are the normal things to do and follow Jesus.  He's always going to against the crowd.  To go upstream in a world where everything should normally be going downstream.  Seem's normal to love yourself over your enemies right?

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