Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Today, the Lord is bringing idolatry to the forefront of my study and prayer time. I guess He brings it up as I allow Him to stir and move in my heart, and it really began before today.

I know like most of us that I like to believe I have no idols because my hands have not hewn from rock or wood any graven images. If this were the lone definition of idolatry, most of us would be in the clear. Most of us are not that handy with a chisel and hammer. If we picked up these tools, the end product would likely not be worthy of worship.

Graven images are not solely fashioned from our hands at crucial moments of creative expression that result in repetitive revisiting due to derived pleasure. Graven images can be imprinted in our minds based on what our eyes have seen. Our minds are perhaps the greatest artists. Capable of bringing visual representations of what our hearts long for. Somehow, we can restore in full detail that thing, person or situation that brings us "rest" when we visit.

The place we return to over and over when we are stressed, or broken becomes an idol to us. For some it is a person. For others it is a place. Still others find it in things. I don't think Mrs. Brown, my first grade teacher, taught me that nouns and idols were interchangeable. However, understanding idolatry is elementary to being consistent in my faith.

It is far too easy to "get stuck in a rut" with how we approach life. The stressers present find us collapsing into thought, returning to places, or even planning how to bring back that which brought us peace and contentment in the moment. Returning here repetitively, is idolatry.

We have taken that which brought us pleasure in a past experience and tried to recreate it, perpetually. When we get there, we can rest...take our mind off...get away. Slowly, gradually, it replaces the Lord on the throne of our hearts, because we spend more time thinking on these things than we do on Him.

When you lay down at night, what is it that lingers in your mind as you drift off to sleep? When you awake each morning, what are the first thoughts you experience? If they are not things of the Lord, and you visit them frequently, idolatry may have become an issue in your life.

This does not end when you enter your place of worship. There are clearly times in each of our lives that we find ourselves trying to recreate a worship experience from the past. We long to be in that place, or to be worshipping like that, again. Wanting to be close to the Lord is a right thing. Recreating a moment in time to attempt to bring that about is the wrong vehicle. That would be idolatry in worship.

It is and always will be the Lord alone that brings us true peace and contentment. When we focus on Him alone during worship, then worship happens. When we stand in His presence trying to recreate a moment (of worship) from the past, and our attention is on bringing back how we felt or what that looked like, we have exited worship, and entered the production of a graven image in our mind.

For some of us we are on sensory overload, as we remember the sights, sounds, smells, and even the touches of those experiences. I am not saying it is inherently wrong to remember with fondness, worship experiences from the past. Only that dwelling on them in an attempt to recreate them encroaches on the purity of worship. We are in affect trying to bring back something we know, in exchange for the unknown of what is before us. We are trying to have what we had because it was pleasurable, experientially.

In Christ, each moment is new. He has not changed, but our experiences will. His Word will not change, but how we walk through a day should not be repeated for comforts sake. How we respond to His promptings should be consistent, but will not necessarily produce like results.

A few years back, Ross King wrote and recorded a song called "Clear the Stage." One of the lines from that that resonate within me is:

"Clear the stage, set the sound and lights ablaze if that's the measure we must take to crush the idols."

Sometimes, I need to clear the platform of my life and allow Him to come in and bring wholeness and restore purity to the place that I have begun to perform. In my performance is found idolatry. In the surrender of my weakness is found His perfection.



At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good morning Brent,

Again, thanks for your words. I am OFTEN guilty of longing for a time (always in the future) when I can "clear my thoughts," or "get away," or "slow down," or visit some place with beautiful scenery so that I can truly worship God....

It is often difficult for me to worship NOW, and to "be in the moment." There is almost always that longing that you mentioned for an experience like I have had at a previous time, and that when things get "organized" in my life, I'll be able to repeat.

What foolishness! Today is the day, right?

Thanks for the reminder!

Love, Jolene

At 5:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This really speaks to me right now... thanks again


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