July 13, 2014
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am just so confused! Maybe it’s not the admission you want to hear from your pastor, but it’s true. Life is confusing. Sometimes we think we should when we shouldn’t and we shouldn’t when we should.
I have high cholesterol, and the doctor told me to lay off of eggs, they’re really bad for you, but new studies indicate eggs aren’t that bad. They say skim milk is worse for you than 2% or whole milk. Granola is filled with sugar and oils. Sports drinks are nothing more than sugar, almond milk and frozen yogurt are not healthy. Even reduced fat peanut butter is less healthy than regular peanut butter. UGH! The only good news was that you should never eat celery before going to sleep. It can act as a diuretic. That’s another reason not to eat celery. Glad I found that one.
Then you add to that confusion, just living life and making decisions about what to do and how to act and it just piles up. And sometimes, we’re just not sure what God wants us to do. But that’s where all of this comes in. Two weeks ago we were talking about the idols we worship.
And today we’re going to continue looking at idol worship. Again, the premise of idol worship is that the biggest culprit in all of this is you and I. It’s that big finger pointing at us, reminding us, we have the capacity to make decisions about what we worship. When we make the wrong decisions, it’s because we chose wrong. I know that doesn’t sound great, but that’s the truth.
Pastor, Tim Keller said this about idol worship ~ “anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.” That is what you worship.
In other words, an idol is anything you take, which is created by God and you give it divine characteristics. You take something that is not god, and you place it before you and expect it to give you ultimate meaning and worth, in place of God.
So many times we do this because we really don’t trust in God’s total goodness. That sounds terrible. But when we place ourselves before God, we’re trusting in our resources to make things happen which we don’t believe God can or will. Sometimes, God says NO to us, and we don’t like that or even believe that’s appropriate for God to do, so we work the system to bring about what we wanted, not what God wanted for us.
We do that with so many things, we get pulled into idol worship without realizing it, and before we know it, we’re worshiping something which is not good, that which is not God.
So, let me ask you,
What determines your happiness? Your mood?
What gives life meaning? What worries you?
Our answers can show the symptoms of idol worship.
Here’s the deeper question, if you had something taken away from you this morning, other than God, would you lose your sense of meaning? Would your life no longer be worth living? Family, money, health, job, your home . . . if it was gone, would your life still have meaning?
We have all sorts of idols —
pride / ego entertainment
our bodies money
hobbies and more
What really strikes me is the idol I left off the list. And the idol of self which runs the ship is the idol of . . . CONTROL. Have you ever noticed we want and cling to control. I’ve really been contemplating that for awhile. Think about it, in the end, we want control; and notice what happens when we don’t have control - - - we aren’t too pleasant to live with.
When we become sick, what happens? We lose control. We lose independence and freedom we expect to have. When we’re no longer able to do all the things we used to do, we fight against the current. We make everyone around us miserable because we’ve lost control. We desperately fight for it and it’s what we cling to.
When we’re uncertain about family events, about what’s happening with our children, our careers, we fight for more control.
We so desperately want control. And what happens is that controlling our lives comes at the expense of worshiping God, because we worship control. Our control.
In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:33-34
As Jesus was talking to the people about worry, He made the point that we are to seek HIS kingdom, the kingdom of God. We don’t look to our kingdom first. That’s part of the control we crave. Instead, we hold onto our kingdoms, which is synonymous with our control.
We believe if we can control our lives, and not allow God to have control, then we can dictate our happiness, our wealth, our time, our bodies, our spouses, and the list goes on. Our view of life is predicated on all that I do, not at all upon God. I’m the King and the judge. It’s my life! I answer to me, not to God.
If I work the system, it’s really great, because I don’t have to worry about consequences. It’s all on me, then of course, when life doesn’t work out as I thought it should, what happens? — — Now I blame God for being absent and not loving. Yet, who was the one who pushed God to the side of the road? ME! Why? Because I wanted control. I believed I was a better god, than God.
Yet, look at what Jesus did for us. He climbed down the stairway from heaven. He left the place of perfection and came to this world and died for us, and so it should come as no great surprise, to have a real life, a life filled with love, grace, power, hope, community, strength . . . we must take action. We will not receive this from any other source than Christ! But we must give our lives to Christ. As Pastor Doug said last week, we must surrender our lives to God. We admit that all is God’s and we, by the grace of God receive His many blessings!
And in accepting Jesus — — believing in Him as THE Son of God, the Messiah, our Lord and Savior, and when we do this, we too are called to die to the ways of the world and submit to the ways of the Master, Jesus.
That’s right . . . Die...
Die . . .
. . . to our right to be offended.
. . . to our need to be apologized to.
. . . to our obsession with convenience,
. . . to our dream of love without sacrifice.
. . . to our desire to control all of life.
But who wants that?
Who wants to "bear with one another's faults?" I want to point them out.
Who wants to turn the other cheek? I want to hit their cheek.
Who wants to love our enemies? I want to hate them.
Who wants to throw a party and invite the weak, sick, and awkward? I want to hang out with the healthy and wealthy.
(Jesus even said to invite the people who can't pay you back)
Friendship's not really worth the effort is it?
After all, online friendships are easier to manage.
We can come and go as we please.
We can give and take as we see fit.
People can be blocked, followed, or disregarded with the stroke of a key,
and best of all, no one can infringe upon our sacred independence.
We are supreme.
We are in control.
We are like God.
And yet, unlike God, we are still lonely.
God promised us He would never leave us, He would never abandon us. He would always, always be with us. But we hide behind our idols, we do so out of fear that God would know the real person. But the crazy thing is, He already knows the real you. He knows you are a sinner. He knows you have your vices. He knows you make lots of mistakes, sometimes they’re accidental, sometimes they’re intentional. The same is true about our sinfulness.
Yet . . . in spite of it all, God sent His Son. God loving the sinner. God loving the one’s who should be cast out of heaven, but who are accepted and embraced . . . not because of anything we’ve done, not because of any great and monumental acts, but because of the act of love – God had for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for you and I. (Romans 5:8)
How amazing is that? Yet, we push God away, we grab hold of whatever we can through the world so that we can be our own masters. What happens when we let go of our control, we find the presence of God.
Friends, life is moving at breakneck speed. It’s hard to imagine there are only 15 days before the back to school rally. UGH! 18 days before school begins and 5 ½ months before we enter 2015.
Think about what you fight for, what you cling to? Consider those things, consider the power they have over you, and how great it would be to let go of them. To hand them over to God and let God take over. But we’ve got to let go of that control.
Each day this week when you wake up, would you ask God to take control.
Each day at every meal, make that part of your prayer. God, thanks for this food, thanks for providing it, thanks for providing for me. Help me to trust you now and throughout the rest of the day. Lord, I give you my life.
Then, don’t take it back from God. Let God fight those big spiritual battles. He’s equipped to do that. He’s the God of the heavenly armies! We’re not. In the end, we know God wins! But why wait for the end of the story to have victory, why not let God in, and have the victory today!?