When Dave and I visited the Garrett County Fair last week, I took this photo of a goat eating its neighbor’s food. Cute? Clever? I actually took the picture as a reminder that food often is my idol of choice. In case you think of idolatry only in terms of a wooden or stone statue in a pagan culture, let me assure you that we all have some golden calf whether fame, education, money, or some natural inclination. Either Jesus controls (rules) my behavior or some idol does. According to Romans 1, an idol leads me to “futile” thinking to the point that I will “exchange the truth for a lie.” To discover the basis for the lie, I have to work at identifying my idols by asking hard questions. What frightens me in nightmarish proportions? What sends anger into overdrive? What good qualities have assumed deity proportions in my life? What or whom do I think I have to control to make my world worth living? Answering such questions takes time and honest thought, but in order to heal, I have to recognize the malady.
After a time of soul searching, the best news available comes from the Gospel. However, many wave off the Gospel as too simplistic or unsophisticated. Moralists tell me to change my behavior, but slipping back into legalism will not destroy idols. The psychological camp wants me to feel better about myself and leave idols to another time and/or culture.Only the Gospel tells me I’m worse than I ever dared think and loved more than I ever dared hope. Worse, because I have established some food as a savior. My bondage to sin was broken by Christ. I reread Romans 6:14 “Sin shall not be your master for you are not under the law, but under grace.” The focus now fixes on Jesus who calls me His own child and allows me to all Him, “Abba, Father,” or Pappy. As my knowledge of Christ’s righteousness deepens, my love draws me toward Him and begins to destroy the idol. The struggle continues, but neither enforced behaviors nor positive feelings demolish idols. Falling more deeply in love with Jesus as the lover of my soul, lets me find my sufficiency in Him.