Article # two: Idols
J o h n : Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. (1John 5:21)
WHAT IS AN IDOL? Let’s go into the Amplified: Little children, keep yourselves from idols (false gods) – (from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life). Amen (so let it be).
“From any sort of substitute.” The lordship of Christ is substituted by someone or something. That someone or something is an idol. Yesterday one obeyed Christ; today obeisance is toward another.
ARE IDOLS COMMON? Very. Joe Average Evangelical has several. That is why he is so impotent. That is why he is bored. That is why most of his prayers go unanswered.
HOW DID IT HAPPEN? It didn’t happen quickly. In each of our lives we have crossroads of decision. Lots of them. One choice is to obey Christ, the other to disobey Christ. Obedience draws us closer to Him, but His ways often seem less pleasant and exciting than the other way.
Of course the other way results in less of Him. Eventually less of Him becomes little of Him. Lukewarmness, with all its pains and penalties and complications, sets in. Rather than suffer the pangs of conviction, one enters into denial. Me, lukewarm? You’ve got to be kidding! And he stops speaking the Name.
Such has joined the very large “They don’t want Him (enough)!” gang.
We each have the awesome power to both seat Christ on the throne of our lives and to dethrone Him. We would never say, “Jesus, do you mind stepping down?” We don’t have to. Jesus knows when our desire to come under His lordship is less than our desire for the lordship of another. He knows when we have crossed the line, when, at our crossroads, our decisions to obey are outnumbered by our decisions to go the other way.
And when He steps down Joe Average denies, even and especially to himself, that He has been dethroned. Joe plays the game, continuing to attend church and do churchy stuff and put on a happy face and speak christian jargon. Much energy is spent convincing others he is doing just great, and others, in response, assure Joe he is doing just great. Joe has spent more years in this repugnant religiosity than he has in meaningful relationship. Joe is not a happy camper.
WHY WOULD ANYONE CHOOSE ‘THE OTHER WAY’? I am sure fallen angels asked themselves, “Why did we choose the other way?” Undoubtedly Adam and Eve often gave their heads a shake and asked each other, “Why did we choose the other way?” The other way was quite popular with the children of Israel. Cain and Joseph’s brothers and Saul and many etceteras went there. So did Judas. Christians choosing the other way ushered in the dark ages. At the judgment seat of Christ multitudes will be asking themselves, “Why did I choose the other way instead of the way of Christ?”
SO WHAT’S THE ANSWER? The answer, of course, is Christ. Oops! – that’s not quite correct. The answer is faith in Christ. Joe Average returns to Christ the same way he first came to Christ as a non-christian. He acknowledges his sins – chiefly the sin of unbelief – repents, and embraces once again the lordship of Jesus Christ.
HOW DOES JOE AVOID MAKING THE SAME MISTAKE? That’s a huge question. Joe, now not-so-Average Joe, must realize he cannot keep himself from backsliding again. On his own lukewarmness will again creep in. We all must realize our dependence on Christ, the head of the church, to keep us in fervency. Without Christ we can’t; with Christ we can. “Without Me you can do nothing.” And, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
The Holy Spirit empowers us to develop an intimate and fruitful relationship with Jesus. The Holy Spirit gives us authority to cast down contrary thoughts and temptations. The Holy Spirit is the evangelist who brings the once-converted back to Christ, and He has the keeping power to preserve our Christ-directed love. He only needs our cooperation.
C h a l l e n g e : There’s more! There’s more, there’s more, there’s more! There is more of Christ to be experienced! With more of Christ comes more of every good thing. No, I’m not talking instant – more comes slowly – but consistent. Christ will consistently reveal Himself to the hungry. Not hungry? “Jesus, make me consistently hungry for more of You. In Your name.”
P r a y e r : Jesus, You said if I abide in You and Your words abide in me, I will ask what I desire and it shall be done for me. Jesus, my Lord and King, anoint this message with Your most Holy Spirit. In Your name. I receive it now as I pray, and I give You sincere thanks. (And hopefully the reader says, “Amen!)