Dealing with your Idols

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Dealing with Idolatry



Intro Self / Thanksgiving
READ Mark 14:1-11
The Stark Contrast
The Chief Priests, Teachers and this Unnamed Woman
This account is in all four gospels — John, the last book written of the gospels includes the fact that this woman was Mary, the sister of Martha
Mary and these Priests and Teachers — Who displayed a greater level of devotion? Who displayed love? For our purposes, which one had idols?
Let’s explore this today
Reading Pete the Cat with the Boys (Valuable Lesson)
Our boys associating with the villain of the book
“Mine, Mine, Mine”
The methodology, the maturity, and vehicle of our lives changes but often the underlying sentiment remains the same
The way we do most things is rooted in this “mine, mine, mine” mentality
Blaise Pascal: “Each man is everything to himself”
I have often found that the way the enemy attempts to instill himself in our world is not just through evil acts but by trying to get people to solely to consider themselves
To turn their devotion from being outward to it being inward
The problem is that this is the ROOT OF ALL IDOLATRY
Idolatry can be anything that we proclaim mine without regard to anything or anyone else
Martin Luther: “Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God, your functional savior?
What about you? What does your heart cling to? What does it confide in? What is your functional savior? Not just the savior I proclaim but the savior I live into?
Story of how idolatry inevitably works. Often subversively.
This whole series we’ve looked at elements that quietly work to become counterfeit gods in our lives. They often work subversively and without us knowing
Power becomes the idol that shift from something honorable to a desperate hunger for control over every situation and circumstance
Money goes from the safety net to the ambition and sign of well-being and status
Love and sexuality shifts from something we crave to our own identity, our escapism, or our source of comfort
Said otherwise, these become our functional saviors.
The great temptation when thinking about idols is to assume you are immune to it
If you think they are somebody else’s problem and not yours, we miss the point of what idols are and how they impact us
If you think you don’t struggle with power because you’re not a CEO and you’re stay out home parent, how do you feel when you can’t control what your kids act like?
The question is not do I have idols. It’s what are they and where are they hidden?
If you ever wanted to know what growth in my faith looks like or in my discipleship?
Imagine a dark home. Often we get comfortable in one room. So we stay there. We don’t think to venture into the unknown that exists elsewhere. At worst, we assume every room in completely fine. At best, we just ignore that there are other places within us
Formation into Christlikeness is picking up a light and walking into a different room and discerning, what in here is an idol? What’s the blockade? What’s the thing that unsettles in this room?
This is what David was talking about when he wrote Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
When I look inside my soul, what do I see? Do I see anxiety? Why do I have that anxiety? Could it be the idol of control
When I look inside my family life, what do I see? Do I see anger, bitter, lack of forgiveness, or a lack of empathy? Where did that come from? Could it be the idol of unrealistic expectations or the need to be proven right?
When I look inside my work life, what do I see? Do I find myself posturing? Do I feel pride? Do I feel insecurity? Where does all that come from? Could it be the idol of gaining the approval of other people
When I look inside my social media life, what do I see? Does my mood shift with my amount of like? Am I consumed with making a name for myself? Where does that come from? Could it be the idol of loneliness where I am trying to be seen by people?
When I look inside my academic life, what do I see? Am I pursuing degrees to elevate my social status? Could it be the idol of recognition and being well thought
NOTICE HERE: The point is not that these are necessarily wrong things. It is that we can so easily elevate them to the degree that they become functional saviors
Power, Love, and Money are not inherently wrong things.
But pursuing them above all else puts them out of order
They become our functional idols
David Clarkson: “Though few will own it, nothing is more common
There are idols in every room of the house.
Anytime we prefer our own wisdom to God’s wisdom
Anytime we prefer our own desires to God’s will
Anytime we prefer our reputation to God’s honor
The human heart is indeed a factory that mass-produces idols
If they first few parts of this series are diagnosing the problem, the rest of today is about working on the problem
We must realize this is an ongoing journey that we must be one
With Kids - Lego pieces everywhere
The journey is like walking around the room, finding a lego piece, picking it up, and bringing it back to the bucket
There may always be lego pieces, but after some time, it becomes easier to find them
I don’t have to look so hard. I become aware and it becomes easier to pick it up and put it back
Often the greatest work you can do is to name your idol — naming an idol causes it to have less power
There are the obvious ones (Addiction, Lack of morality to gain money or power) But then are the not so obvious ones
Often, it does not necessarily feel like sin
I want to challenge you with this: Anything, if we’re not careful can become your god
The grind and the hustle for your side business can easily become your god
The constant fear and wondering if you’ll ever marry someone can become your god
The need to be promoted and seen for you to have a sense of identity and validation can become your god
Your social media can become your god
Your kids can become your god
Your calling can become your god
Church: This platform can become my god
This is the blockage, the hindrance. The thing I refuse to let go of. The thing I’ve put my trust in and my hope in. This is my sense of security and my sense of identity
Here’s a test: What would it feel like if it were gone?
We say we have trust and dependence on God but it’s easy to say that when we don’t actually have to have trust and dependence on God. Often we can trust and depend on our idols? But what if they’re gone?
I realized it was more than a job. When it wasn’t there, I felt like my identity was under attack.
Who am I? I felt like I was in disarray?
You often don’t know something is an idol until it’s under attack
As we work through this, we must realize that there are external and internal idols
It is much easier to identify the external idols than it is the internal idols. There external idols is what my idol is. The internal idol is why it is there.
Israelites at the base of Mt. Sinani — Make a golden calf and call it YHWH
Why? What was there internal idol? It was the fear that Moses was taking too long and wasn’t going to come back down? They were following the idol of fear
Sports is often my external idol
Why? Why do I love it? Some deep work has made me realize that I use as an escape? What am I escaping? That’s my internal idol
It’s much deeper and harder to eradicate
I can delete sports apps off my phone but my internal need for escapism requires much more work
As we name our idol, we must also look to see if there is a source behind it
Another way to name our idols is to consider our imagination
Archbishop William Temple: “Your religion is what you do with your solitude” — not convicting at all
What is happening internally and in your mind, particularly when you’re alone describes your faith and your source of hope and security
In other words, the true god of your heart is what your thoughts effortlessly go to when there is nothing else demanding your attention
What is your default? What do you enjoy daydreaming about? What occupies my mind when I have nothing else to think about?
Do I develop potential scenarios about career advancement? Do I spend a lot of time thinking up my dream home? Am I occupied in my mind with a particular person and what a relationship with them come mean?
The goal is not to squash daydreaming. It’s to ask the question, what do I habitually think about?
My thought life in solitude will reveal where my hope and security are
The key to this is not just what I say but what I live
What is the role of God in my life functionally?
On a day to day basis, here is the role and the place I’ve God in my life
I will often do one of two things with God:
I will use God as a means by which I get something else or
I will use my means by which I get to God
When I use God to get to my means, the means is the idol
First, this happens when my chief and end goal is not God. But it is to get the things that God gives me
Think of the older brother in the story of prodigal son — he had the father but did not desire the brother. He wanted the father as a means by which he was celebrated and recognized for the good person he way?
What was the end goal of his life? Recognition
He wanted the father to help him get that
More often than we care to admit, we use God as the means by which we get something else
This is often where idolatry is at play
This is using God as a good luck charm
Or, it is following the path I want for my life and hoping God puts his hand on it and blesses it
Imagine a wedding day, and you are saying your vows
Today I choose, to love you and to be there for you because of all the benefits that you give to me
Mostly marital tax deductions, IRA and Health Insurance benefits, and the financial security you’ll give me because you’re a doctor
That’s ridiculous because the goal of our marriage is union. It’s each other. It’s each other’s presence
Friend, we don’t use God to get things. The goal is union with Christ and in that way, we are formed into his image
The beautiful part is that the stuff comes. But it is not the goal
Think back to that idol in your life:
Is it possible that we are using God to get to that idol?
Ask yourself the question, what do I really want and what is my goal?
If Jesus was all we had, would he still be enough for us?
Can we come to terms with the thought that Jesus + Nothing = Everything
Your goal and my goal on this earth is not to accumulate wealth or gain power. Our goal on this earth is to glorify God
If idolatry is rooted in a paradigm of mine, mine, mine, worship is rooted in a paradigm of him, him, him
By definition, it moves attention off myself, my desires, and my idols, and on to God
Thus, the greatest thing we can do in dealing with idolatry is become people of worship
We all have a throne in our lives — We all worship something
Christian or not, something is the center of your life
We all have a throne and we place something on it
Often, it’s a mixture and combination of things
It’s thing we center our lives on and put our faith, hope, and trust. It becomes our functional savior
HEAR THIS: That thing, be it power, sex, money, identity, greed, career, politics, or idealism is all rooted in self
So in essence, we are putting ourselves on the throne
Worship is the act of getting off the throne and allowing for God to have his proper place
This unnamed woman is there where everyone is reclining at the table right before passion week
They are at a home just outside of Jerusalem and they are there for the festival that is going on
The home of Simon the Leper
This to say that they have for years seen and first hand experienced all that Jesus did
And yet, their priorities were still in many ways misguided
This should give us some hope
The disciples should have been the ones who got it and still it wasn’t clear to them
It’s possible to be around Jesus and still have misguided priorities (I’m thankful that he has mercy for that)
She goes up to Jesus and breaks this alabaster jar of perfume over him
This perfume was said to not be ordinary perfume
It was imported, likely from India and incredibly expensive
The Bible tells us how much it’s worth. This would be the equivalent of years wages.
So this wasn’t something she bought at the mall. It’s was likely a family heirloom that had indispensable value to her
It was a common practice to anoint guests as a sign of honor. But anointing for most meant take some on your finger, put it on the forehead
If she had pulled out this incredibly expensive perfume and anointed him, people would have been amazed. Wow, she took the most expensive perfume and anointed Jesus with it.
But this act is not ordinary --- she breaks jar
Which means this, if it is broken, the perfume can’t be returned.
Which means every bit of it was poured out
A years wages, a family heirloom, gone in a minute
This woman is reckless, she throws caution to the wind, she’s extravagant, she’s over the top and everyone seems to think so, except for Jesus
Jesus calls it a beautiful thing
What everyone else calls a waste, Jesus calls beautiful
When it may feel like your prayers are just wasting time, Jesus calls it beautiful
When it feels like it’s a waste of time to live with integrity when your coworkers don’t, Jesus calls it beautiful
When it feels like going to church on a Sunday is outdated and unnecessary, Jesus calls it beautiful
Friends, the things that we do in the name of Jesus that the world doesn’t understand are beautiful in his sight
The oil was used in a variety of ways for kings, priests, and prophets throughout the scriptures
But the best understanding here is that she recognize that Jesus was the messiah --- meaning the Savior, the Christ, the One they were waiting for
If worship is about ascribing worth and recognizing who someone is, that this pouring out of oil is a beautiful act of worship
Now let’s be honest
She didn’t fully understand what was happening. She wasn’t totally sure he would die and she had no way of knowing he would be resurrected
But she did know that whoever this man is, he is worthy of an extravagant expression of love
This is what worship is all about. --- It’s about extravagant expressions of love
This woman could have sat back and taken it all in
But if she had, perhaps she would have been succumbing to the idol of reputation (risking what everyone thought of her), the idol of financial security (the jar of oil)
Instead, she pours all of it out on Jesus
What’s not turned into worship can easily become our idol
Every good and perfect gift from God must not point us to itself
It must be used to point us to our creator
Your calling, the dream on your life, your skills and gifts, your relationships and family, your identity and value, all of it must be used to worship God
Romans 1:25 - They worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator
Anything that we don’t turn into a means of worship has the potential to become an idol
They missed this --- they had their own idols they were wrestling with
They mention the poor --- but it is not a real concern for the poor
Mark 6:36 - Let the hungry crowds fend for themselves
Mark 9:34 - Consumed with pursuing position of prominence in the Kingdom
At this point, Judas already knew he would betray Jesus
Concern for the poor here is little more than pretense. They are posturing themselves because of their own idols in their lives
The Idol of Comparison
They feel threatened because they are comparing themselves to her and realize that they don’t match up
So they posture themselves by criticizing her
Comparison takes our eyes off of God and places them on how we match up to others
The Idol of Insecurity
She’s giving a lot. We’re not.
Peter is over here rejecting that Jesus would die while she is preparing for his death
What do you when you feel insecure? You make yourself look and sound good
The Idol of Ministry
They could not believe she would do this because it felt like them to be a waste
This could fund so much ministry. Imagine how many poor people we could help with a year’s wages
They are actually distracted by ministry
It had become an idol to them
Good things, like ministry can become our idols when we place them first in our lives
Jesus goes on to say that everywhere the Gospel goes, the story of her will shared
After 2000 years, we are still talking about this extravagant expression of love
A woman who poured out all out of love for Jesus
I wonder what story will be shared among our friends and family about us over the years
Will it be said of us that we poured out all we had and all we are in worship?
Will it be said that we recognize who Jesus is when others may not have?
Will it be said that we were willing to give an extravagant expression of love?
I want to be known most as someone who loved Jesus
Imagine what this life looks like?
Reverse engineer it
What do we need to do today to have that kind of life tomorrow?
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