I’m a fraud at best. A traitor who claims to love Jesus with my words, yet spends more time loving the world than meditating on his words. A Gomer, bought with a high price by my Beloved, yet continuing to whore myself out to lesser lovers – the idols of this world which steal away my affections and hide my heart in their shallow graves when my heart could be hidden securely in the hands of my Creator.
Why do I do this? Why do I run to the world to satisfy the deepest longings of my heart when I know that my Lord came so I may have life to the fullest?
There is no better life apart from an abiding walk with Jesus. And in my heart and head, I cry out for just a closer walk, yet by my actions, it is clear that I am not in pursuit of the One who dreamed me into existence and birthed me from dust so that he could save me from myself and deliver me into the heavenly realms, at the foot of his glorious throne in eternity.
This week, I realized the weight of my chains. The depravity of my addiction. The depth of my desire to love and be loved. And it gutted me. Because I have chosen to worship a lesser god. I have chosen, too often, to root my identity in man-made kingdoms of sand which will quickly fade and hold no meaning beyond this earth. Except the meaning that “where my treasure is, there my heart will be also,” and that the things I treasure here on earth expose who or what my heart truly loves.
My idol is not a golden calf or a statue of Baal. That would be absurd. Why, I would be a fool to bow to such a lifeless being.
But my idol is smaller. And no less foolish. My idol fits in the palm of my hand, does not move or breathe, and does not care about my heart in the slightest. It is the tool which keeps me connected to my friends, photos, emails, and the endless black hole of internet information which threatens to make human research and reason extinct.
Hi, my name is Sarah, and I’m addicted to my iPhone.
Shocking? Scandalous? Anticlimactic?
Go ahead, roll your eyes. You might think you know where this is going. But I bet you don’t.
I’m not here to rant about technology, belittle the techno-generation, berate the culture of instant gratification, or mourn the degradation of text-only friendships.
Because I don’t think God cares about that.
But I do know that he cares about our hearts. And this is a heart issue. And one that I know I am not alone in coming up against.
When Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly,” (John 10:10), I don’t think he meant, “I came so that you may have life abundantly, but if you need some other things in your life to make you feel secure and happy, that is totally cool with me.”
No, actually, I think he meant, “Anything that you are relying on to feel full of life that is NOT me is actually a thief. And it’s destroying you. And it’s killing you. Because it is eating away at your soul and keeping you from fully seeing and experiencing me.”
After you whip out your iPhone (or respective “smart” phone) and scroll through your Facebook newsfeed, tell me, do you ever actually feel better about yourself? When you take a break in your day to pour over your Instagram feed, do the images of others living what looks like “the good life” actually increase your joy when you feel like you are barely hanging on by a thread?
Does that constant nagging that you have to prove yourself as a wife, mother, adventurous spirit, exciting person, or I-love-Jesus-all-the-time-and-my-life-never-sucks-super-Christian truly fill the void in your heart? Or does it fail to satisfy the part of your heart which is screaming, “See me. Love me. I am wasting away on the inside and just want somebody to notice?”
We all have a deep craving to be seen, loved, and treasured. We want to be affirmed, approved, and appreciated.
We all want to be noticed.
And while we are busy begging for the world’s affections, God is quietly and patiently waiting on us to be still in our hearts, minds, and spirits long enough to hear him in the stillness and realize that his love, which is stronger than death is enough to satisfy even the deepest, most desperate cry of our hearts.
Even though idolatry is a major issue here, I think we need to focus on why we turn to idols rather than the 5-step plan to rid our lives of idols. We’ve heard enough sermons, written enough resolutions, and made enough attempts to give up our addictions. But have we ever really considered why we turn to these other things when God is so available and deeply soul-satisfying?
Here are some of my theories:
1. We don’t believe God is who he says that he is and do not trust him to satisfy us like he says that he will.
2. We are afraid of admitting our weakness, desperation, and need for a daily Savior in a culture which tells us we need to have it all together and then flaunt our “have-it-all-togetherness.”
3. We are afraid that maybe God is enough and are scared that we might have to change everything about our lives once we discover that God is actually enough.
Friends, take comfort in this –
God is who he says he is. And he tells us to wait on him for a reason…he wants us to know the depth of joy, love, peace, and satisfaction that life abundantly in him offers. And guess what? When we lift our eyes to Christ and allow his Spirit to fill us and satisfy us, changing everything about our lives isn’t even a thought. Because when we encounter the depths of God – when we truly pause to let God meet with us instead of striving and trying to work to get God’s attention (that is a topic for another day) – then we become changed people. And our lifestyles will naturally change to reflect that over time.
So what does this have to do with my conviction over too much time, attention, and energy being poured into a silly piece of technology?
It has to do with my heart. With our hearts. It has to do with the sobering reality that far too often, I spend more time talking about what is going on in my world or posting pictures of my life or being connected to all the happenings of my friends than I do spending time with the One who created me and longs to reveal himself to me more each day.
Do you ever feel anxious after scoping out Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other website dedicated to empowering people to create their own cyber kingdoms? There is something to that. Because all of these websites captivate our eyes and tempt our hearts to long for the things of the world and our own empowerment rather than casting our eyes on the perfect Savior who not only saved us in the past, but is continuing to save and redeem us each day from our own pride, greed, envy, jealousy, and discouragement.
You want to hear something scary?
I’m going to tell you anyway. Because this should frighten us and lead to some major reflection and repentance:
The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see;
they have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths.
Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them.
Did you catch that last line?
Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them.
Do you know what that means? If we are spending all of our time clutching our technology and posting and viewing pictures and updates, then we will become as dead and lifeless as the technology that we worship. And those thieves which steal our time and our affections will make us blind and deaf to the Truth even when Jesus is staring us directly in the face. I hope that terrifies you the way it terrified me when I heard it presented in a sermon recently.
We must understand – worshipping these earthly idols does not mean singing songs at things other than Jesus. That misunderstanding comes from a poorly constructed theology of worship. Worship is “adoring reverence and regard.” And we better believe that regarding the things or the people in our lives more than Jesus is no different or less absurd than Aaron and the Israelites making much of a statue of a cow.
The cry of our hearts should be for more of Jesus and his Kingdom and less of our shabby, earthly kingdoms where we pose as kings and queens in a universe that revolves all around our activities.
Yes, Jesus frees us from the weight of our sins, but he also wants to free us from the pressure to prove ourselves to others, the anxiety that arises when we focus too long on the things of this world, and the discouragement that abounds when we dedicate ourselves to lives of comparison of others rather than celebration of the One who bought our freedom.
My earnest hope is that you and I can set aside our idols only after we have taken the time to truly be still and look to Christ for satisfaction and fulfillment. He truly is as worthy as he says he is. And the life of abiding in Christ is also the life which demands and inspires authenticity – the comfort to be who we really are and admit that everything isn’t always hunky-dory, but Jesus is our hope and anchor even when this world threatens to drain us dry and drown us beneath the stormy seas.