Sunday Scrutinizations: Freedom from Idolatry
Tonight was first night back to worship services at Township Line since we got back from vacation. I was reminded when the leaders were saying it was going to be challenging to do this, because it was going to be hot: and tonight was hot. It is good to be a part of something that people still are galvanized about even when it is extremely difficult. People were saying to each other how hot they were, but with a smile on their face. It would be so easy to just say, “Not tonight,” and go on with you day, not worrying about it and stay all night in your air-conditioned house. Also, you know what? We had visitors. A surprising amount, and in particular, a surprising type of visitor. Perhaps more about this later, when all is said and done and the dust has settled.
First off though, I wanted to share something regarding my speaking with our Tuesday night fellowship group. We met Saturday morning for brunch and I was able to share some things that have been on my heart, in terms of my job, my wife’s teaching, the direction in our life, some needs we would like to see fulfilled. One thing that really struck me from the conversation was that they told me to be eager and excited and looking forward to what God has for us. I generally look ahead to a major transition with fear and trepidation, because of some past missteps. I needed to be corrected in this, because God does care and love us and wants to give us good things. As my sister-in-law reminded me last week, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” When people have been asking me how things are going or if my job is going well, I have to remember this. It is a perspective changer for sure. So tonight when people asked me my most dreaded question, “How is work going?” I tried to turn that perspective of looking forward to His change for me in this and it changed what I usually say, which is “…mmm okay” or “same old, same old.” I just tell them I’m looking forward to what God is going to do in my life in my job and in my family. It is very much freeing indeed.
Back to what happened tonight: After dinner and singing, I went over with the children’s group to help out as usual and I was told that if I wanted to sit in the sermon I could. “You don’t need me?” I say. “Nope. I think everything is taken care of tonight. You’ve been here every time,” is the response. “But I haven’t been here for the last two weeks?” “It’s okay, we got this.” They really didn’t need me? I didn’t dwell on it too much, because I was just glad to sit down and listen to a sermon tonight. Also, several people said they missed the Sunday Scrutinization thing, so I decided to give my loyal fans what they wanted: hard note taken and great summary… (That sounded funny to me, didn’t it to you? If it didn’t then you’re not reading enough of my stuff.) Anyway, I sat down, didn’t have my bible, or a pen, or my notebook, or a chair for that matter. Some young kid had stolen my chair next to my wife, and I had to kick him loudly out of my seat! I disturbed a lot of people, but it was the principle of the thing! It was my chair. I lugged it there and I’m a gonna sit in it. Well, once I did get my seat back and everyone settled down, my wife provided me with a half a sheet of paper and got me a pen. Isn’t she great? I started taking notes and noticed I had some sort of sore on the side of a knuckle on my writing hand and it made writing very difficult. I couldn’t take as detailed of notes as I usually do, so what I’m going to do is just type out what I wrote, word-for-word, and tell you my gut feeling about the whole thing. Here are my notes:
Gal 4:8-11 Changed my viewpoint
Judaizers -> Jesus +
enslavement -> to good things
v8 – non Gods – idols/nothingness
how do we become enslaved?
How are we free?
idol anything we have/do to gain approval outside of Christ
my idols – comfort/familiarity
1 Jn 5:21 sums up entire book – idols
idolatry is fundamental root of all our “problems” in life
why do we fail? -you have an idol
when we “blow” it – look at what is our idol
look at all the things we use to cope with life
epithermra – things we over desire 1Pt2 being noticed, included, loved
stop and look for the chains to that idol
v9 Free? God’s love
Well, there you have it. An insight into my wonderful note taking; with injured hand. Quick summary: He said that this section completely changed his view when it came to seeing his sin and when he counsels people. Of course Galatians has to deal with those nasty Judaizers who went around telling people that they weren’t doing enough; it is Jesus plus whatever they were selling. We were being enslaved all over again after being freed from sin. But how is it we come back to enslaving ourselves to things that are less important than God’s love, salvation and freedom. Although there is an idea that we are to put ourselves under the mastery of our Lord; that is why we call Him Lord you know, because we are to be His slaves, a rebellious and ornery slave, but a slave nonetheless. We all have idols and those are anything we have or do to gain approval outside of Christ. We can look at all the troubles in our lives and trace it back to some sort of idol. We were surprised, hurt or troubled by something because of some expectation we have in our life and specifically because of an idol we have in it. Comfort and familiarity are strong idols in my life. Also, after heavy consideration and asking questions at the end, I sometimes have self-condemnation as an idol in my life. Sometimes thinking that I’m just too horrible to deserve what He has offered, AND given to me I condemn myself as unworthy of Him. That is something I’ve put before God. I’ve been satisfied at times with my status quo of sinfulness and doubted His love for me, that He could fundamentally change who I am, that I am more important than Him. Look at that! Us self-condemning, those who have a tendency toward depression, are saying that their sin is bigger than God. Oh the Gall of it all!
His love is the most powerful force in the universe: it changes animals to those who are righteous. I think of that story in Daniel about the king who said his creation was grander than God and God changed him to an animal that ate grass for several years. Then God opened his eyes and this king praised God, with all his heart. When God changes us from sinful, enslaved human to righteous and saved saint, that should be the most glorious, most humbling thing we are to ever encounter. His love changed me. Has it changed you? Do you see His love in your life day-to-day? Sometimes we forget who we are because of the wiles of the world sways us and tempts us away from His love. “Come to me, all you who are weak and weary, for my burden is light and easy,” He says to us. We should be excited day-to-day what He has for us. Have you forgotten? Has this world taken you to a path of disappointment, heartache and pain? He is calling you. He wants you to cast all your cares on Him. I will speak of it, how I am excited about what He has done and is doing. He loves you, and that is your triumph over our idols. Remember, idols are generally good things for us, but we take them, or trust them too far. When they become more important than God, then is when they became idols.
You know, I love self-condemnation, but when has it ever loved me back?