Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bright idols?

I asked a few friends on my Facebook page about the idols they thought we encountered today and we found some in the world around us and then a few right at home.  The list included: Facebook, the internet, our phones, money, fame, celebrities, reality TV stars, materialism and I could add the love of anything that draws us away from God.

2 Kings 17:40-41 (NIV)  "They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices.  Even while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did."

Are we guilty of this?  Do we worship our idols while we are serving the Lord?  Are we checking that phone or looking for an update when we are doing our Bible study or praying?  Are we checking out of our faith when we check in to reality TV?

For me, I think the litmus test would be if someone could say anything about our faith based on what they see us doing while we are professing to be worshiping and living our lives in faith.  Could they tell from how we live and use the tools in our lives the dedication we have to our faith?  If they can then we are doing it right but if they cannot, perhaps some prayerful examination is needed.

Are we like that commercial  where the couple, and their dog, are at the sunset and she is saying this is great and he motions to her because he is tweeting or updating his FB or texting.  Only her dog is enjoying that one time showing of God's sunset.  The commercial ends with the narrator happily noting that at least someone gets it and you know it is her and the dog!

How much of life are we missing when we spend it checking out or updating without actually being in it?  Don't get me wrong, there are many useful tools, but when they come before our God and before our neighbors then do they become idols of our age?  

Are we more aware of the reality TV stars than the people in our family?  Sometimes the degree in which we make celebrities frightens me.  We put people up so high and then joyfully yank them back down just to prove they are all too human.  Using people for idols always leads to being let down they are, after all, people!

Let's put it a different way...if the story of the Good Samaritan (if you need a refresher on it click here) were to happen on your street or the road you take home or even on the sidewalk by your school would you notice?  Would we be a good neighbor and call for help with those tools or would we be so absorbed in serving them we would text, tweet and status update past without seeing a thing?  Would you stop at a cry for help or would you think it was a cool ring tone

It isn't just us or even this generation so don't feel all bad!  When the toys and tools distract us from relationships, era and age doesn't matter.  In Numbers they were distracted by their idols even while appearing to be worshiping the Lord.  The high places plagued the leaders of Israel and Judah.  The desire to play with the shiny idol things has always been in our nature.  We can conquer it through God.

The Bible is full of times when we are full of other stuff and we miss what God is showing us.  Baalam had to be reminded by his loyal donkey, which saved his life.  Jesus cured blindness of the soul and of the body, of the mind and the spirit.  He knew the teachers of the law were worshiping the Law and not understanding the spirit of the law, just as they were blind to the teachings of Jesus because their idols shone so brightly.  Their own view of themselves as important shone more brightly than their faith. 

What in our lives shines brightly and is made of things of man and distracts us from God?  It could be anything and often times are many things.  We are all guilty of it.  It would be hard to find anyone unable to be distracted by bright and shiny things.  Distracted we can pray through and work with it is when we become devoted to them, attached to them that the dangers of idol worship become real.  

No one is immune, but God gives us a wonderful antidote.  The shining promise of His Love through Jesus.  No treasure is greater than our salvation.  Nothing is more worthy of our undivided attention than redemption through grace.

So tweet, update, text and talk...but don't become a slave to the tools!  Don't forget that even things with a Christian label can be idol like in their distractions!  If talking about the latest episode or star comes before asking how are you, can I pray for you, are things okay then maybe the shiny things are getting too close to your eyes! 

Be grateful! Be joyful! Be bringers of the fruits of the spirit.  Be confident that we can enjoy life, as God has blessed us but don't forget the very things which draw our eyes from God can twinkle and shine to keep our eyes off of God and our tasks for Him.

I would love if you would share some of the ways you unplug and reconnect...some ways we do are being 'off-line' on weekends, setting aside days and times when we are not electronic dependent, talking about what we see when we go for a walk.  

Now, please, get off the computer and go hug your loved ones, say a prayer and enjoy the rich blessings of God's creation! 

(I have to share that I am so grateful for the brothers and sisters in Christ that I connect with on a regular basis online, without the blessings of technology we would not be able to connect, share with each other and pray together.  There are a great many tools we can use to make our lives and walks richer and more full, that allow us to encourage each other and find ways to serve regardless of miles.  That is a blessing from God, just as you are!)

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