Asking someone, “what is your idol” doesn’t work. Sometimes you have to do a little fishing. You might be surprised at what you pull up – But Jesus isn’t.
Instead, to identify an idol ask, “what is your WORST nightmare.”
What does your heart fear losing the most or gives you the most anxiety if it were gone tomorrow?
My friend, that is your idol.
An idol is something or someone other than God than you believe has the power to save you from all the “UNs” of life. Just like, “There’s an app for that,” Sure enough, you’ll find there’s an idol for that …
If your feeling:
- unloved? idolize your boyfriend or spouse
- unfulfilled? Idolize your family, kids, grandads, pets, job, hobbies etc.
- unwealthy? Idolize money
- unsatisfied? Idolize food
- unsophisticated? Idolize your intelligence and academia
- unholy? Idolize religion
- unfit? Idolize fitness and your body
- unable? Idolize drugs and alcohol
- unliked? Idolize popularity
- unfashionable? Idolize beauty, trends and celebrities
- unnoticed? Idolize social media, your accomplishments, fame
- undesirable? Idolize sex, sexual allure, pornography
- unwell? Idolize health, and vitality….and the list goes on.
Idols and their tentacles reach far deeper into our hearts than we ever could imagine. Our hearts, being the idol factories they are manufacture false feelings of security and may promise all of the above but most of the time fail to do any of those things in reality. They often have such prominent positions in our hearts they will exhaust our time, energy, emotional, financial, mental and even spiritual resources as we seek to serve them.
Idols can be,
- what we most love spending time or money on
- what we most enjoy reading about or daydreaming about
- what we look to for heart-rejuvenation
- what we talk the about most
- what gives us the most excitement about the future
- what gives us greater joy than Christ
- what leads us away from God
- what we refuse to live without
The Bible actually spends more time warning people against false idols than anything else, including the command not to fear.
Jesus Often Fishes for idols. Two Examples.
The Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10:17-27 says he wants to follow Jesus, but he had two things going against him, he was rich and he was young. Jesus, knowing his heart wasn’t fully devoted to Him needs to flesh out his idol and like an intense game of Go Fish He begins by asking if he has failed to keep any of the 10 commandments, calling out cards in rapid succession…have you murdered, have you committed adultery, have you stolen, borne false witness, defrauded anyone, do you honor your parents?
And the man says, “Go Fish Jesus, I don’t have any of these cards.” (not really, that’s my paraphrase)
He actually says, ” I have kept all these things from my youth up.”
“Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.”
Needless to say, that was a match. Surely, that was his worst nightmare, the ONE thing he wasn’t willing or able to do in order to follow Jesus.
Woman at the Well
Now, contrast him with Woman at the well in John 4:1-42. Jesus offers her a way she can have everlasting life metaphorically by offering her a “spring within”.
She’s desperate, she wants this! “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
She may not have fully realized what Jesus was offering at first. Maybe, as she slipped in and out of men’s arms, she began to want whatever they could offer. Attention, love, sex, a temporary form of security. Whatever the case, Jesus offered so much more than physical water. Jesus, knowing her cards so well, calls her bluff
“Go and call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
TIME OUT. Hiding your cards (or idols) from Jesus is not going to end well, as she soon finds out. If you’ll allow me to paraphrase the next things Jesus says is,
“Oh YES you do, my dear. You have 5 of them and I see the one hiding up your sleeve too.” Indeed Jesus had a match.
But she doesn’t leave disheartened like The Rich Young Ruler. No, she lays it down. She says okay you got me…still not sure how He knows all this about her…
She runs her finger over her souls deepest scars and consoles herself in the only hope she has left, the Messiah, her true love, the One she’s waiting for. The One that won’t pack up his things and walk away like worldly love does so often.
While her heart and soul are bare and opened before Jesus, she realizes He is the One she’s been waiting for. All her sin, and idols known completely by God and yet she is still loved.
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything.” – Tim Keller
Laying Down Your Idol Makes All the Difference
The difference here between the Rich Young Man and this woman is he leaves Jesus- saddened and grieving. She leaves her idols- rejoicing and praising.
Is Jesus your ultimate Spouse? If not, then our desire and delight in anything or anyone other than Him can cause us to commit spiritual adultery. Romance, sex, marriage, spouses or any off the idols list above are “false lovers”.
If your biggest nightmare is losing someone’s love or someone you love and you find yourself doing anything to keep it all costs even to the detriment your physical, mental or spiritual health. It must prompt the question -could they be your idol?
Someday the inevitable will happen. One of you will lean over the side of the coffin to kiss the other goodbye. If the person lying in the coffin is your God – how can they strengthen you in your darkest time?
Playing Go Fish with my kids…
Inevitably involves them accidentally showing me their cards while their little pudgy fingers try to hold them all. Yet they are so amazed that I am so good at guessing their cards! I wonder if that’s how God feels as we fumble through life with our idols. While, I could reach over and rip out every matching card from their hand, I call it to see if they will give it to me. I know when then don’t.
Whatever match it might be for you, God will not rip it out of your hands either. He’s waiting for you to voluntarily lay down your idols, and you will. When you know, He knows. And finally see them for the lesser things they really are and that there’s no use hiding them from God.
Song to PRAY
Click below to meet the Woman at the Well…
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