Maximillian Amadeus Banzai (banzai) wrote,
Maximillian Amadeus Banzai

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Personal idols

Thinking about quizzes earlier brings to mind something I wanted to share. At staff meeting Wednesday we considered an exercise from Gospel Transformation on idolatry; specifically, how we set ourselves up as idols. Here it is, but it's not for the faint of heart—there was no way for me to finish without recognizing that Jesus is my only hope. Come to think of it, that's a good way to keep my heart from being faint.

Not only do we trust other things to bring us blessings, we also trust ourselves. In other words, we place ourselves on the throne, and set ourselves up as false gods. What are some of your chief idols?

Read through the list below. After you’ve finished, re-read the statements and check the ones that made you think: “That’s me!” What desires (even good ones) rule your life?

<input ... >People must listen to me. (They must give me their undivided attention. They must not look away when I speak to them.)
<input ... >I control my world. (Things must be ordered. Things must not break down or mess up. People must not mess around with me or catch me off guard.)
<input ... >I have the right to judge others. (Especially external, because I cannot see into the heart. I judge their shortcomings and sin. I compare myself favorably with them.)
<input ... >I speak and it is done (Gen 1:1–31). (If things are not accomplished immediately, I am angry of defeated. My desire to change things rules me.)
<input ... >People must respect/honor me. (Including other drivers on the road. People must not bump into me on the street. They must knock before coming into my office.)
<input ... >People must obey me (especially my children.)
<input ... >I have to be self-righteous. (Thus I defend, attack, condemn, adjust the record, destroy others records, excuse, build good karma, blame.)
<input ... >I glorify myself. (I am all-knowing, all-wise. I look down on others’ mistakes; my opinions are all-wise and correct.)
<input ... >I do whatever pleases me. (TV, food, sex, shopping, entertainment, videos, computer games, vacations.)
<input ... >I have to look holy (especially pastors). (I have to appear perfect. I am Dr. Jekyll at church, but Mr. Hyde appears at home.)
<input ... >I am accountable to no one. (If you call me to account I get mad or raid the fridge.)
<input ... >I must be healthy. (I have a right to good health.)
<input ... >I must be independent. (I must not depend on anyone.)
<input ... >People must love me. (I want to be loved by….)
<input ... >People must serve me. (They must meet my “need.”)
<input ... >People must not look at me. (“He ‘dissed’ me so he had to die” is an actual statement from a criminal in New York City who had just shot someone.)
<input ... >Life revolves around me. (I must be the center of my family life, my job, my church.)
<input ... >I must make it to the top. ( I must win—job, sports, computer games. I aim for the top and tread over anyone to get there.)
<input ... >I get vengeance. (I don’t get mad, I get even.)
<input ... >I must save…(myself, my husband, wife, children, friends) from their sinful behavior, etc. I must bring peace…( I never argue. I bring good tidings.)
<input ... >I make my own laws. (As the law of God is an expression of God’s character, so my laws are an expression of my idolatry.) Some of these laws include:
<input ... >The toothpaste tube must be squeezed from the bottom. The soap must not be broken in two. (I control my world.)
<input ... >I read the newspaper first. (People must honor me.)
<input ... >The house has to be tidy. The food must be good. (People must serve me. People must compliment me.)
<input ... >When I talk to people, they must give me their undivided attention. (People must respect me.)
<input ... >The toilet paper must come over the top, so it does not rub against the wall and get dirty. (I demand cleanliness.)
<input ... >The toilet paper must come from underneath, so it uses less toilet paper. (I demand thriftiness.)
<input ... >The family must be ready on time. (I demand respect. I would hate for people to see me late.)
Considering the list above, what desires (even good ones) rule your life?

Saint Augustine summarized one of the great themes of Scripture, and thus all of life, when he said: "You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in you." God made us to be dependent on him for all we need. As creatures, we are made for relationship. We are made for worship. If we are not turning to God in worship, we are turning to something else. If we do not bond with God through the gospel, then we will bond to something else—something that promises to do for us what only the gospel can do. We hold to idols so tightly, and return to them so quickly, because they appear to do the same thing for us that the gospel does. They become part of us in the same way that our heavenly Father should be part of us. Thus, when we repent of an idol, it feels as if we have to shed our skin.

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