Idols of the Heart

On Friday, November 11, 2011, LTi is hosting an event at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary entitled “Re-Ignited: Kindling Your Inner Fire for God” with special guest speaker Chris Webb (and yours truly). In anticipation of that event I am focusing my weekly blogs on the topic, “What are the winds that blow toward your soul and seek to extinguish your inner flame for God?”

Part three: the idols of our heart. Not just our “American Idols” (as in the hit television show), but anything we cling to more intimately than God. To those people, places, experiences, ideas, and things that captivate the love (and lust) of our hearts (anything you believe you “must” have), God states clearly in his first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”(Exodus 20: 3-6)
Idols, or attachments, are those attitudes, possessions, people, and/or activities that we cling to and find more pleasurable than the worship, generosity, relationships, and service that God calls us to embrace. Our idols are manifested in our disoriented hearts that long more for created things than for the Creator. We crave money, sex, and power, being right, in control of outcomes, living securely, and comfortably entertained. We want to have all that this world affords, often for the cheapest and quickest cost. Our drivenness is often skewed toward personal strength (i.e. obsessing over body image via compulsive exercise or grooming, or becoming overly greedy for material gain) and rarely toward humble weakness and sacrificial service to others (as expressed in devotion to God’s Word, prayer, worship, righteous living, and sacrificial generosity).
When we pursue daily longings that lead us away from God we are feeding our propensity to idolatry. As a result, the idols and attachments of our lives need to be open-handedly surrendered to God. We need to genuinely confess that we indeed have idols that need to be relinquished – identifying them one by one. We need to seek the forgiveness of Christ, release the grip of our attachments, and find freedom in submission to the work of God’s Spirit deep within us.
Is it time to address your idols by name, purge yourself of all unwholesome attachments, purify your heart and return prayerfully to the Lord in worship once more? The love and joy that awaits you is worth every ounce of sweet release.