Last Sunday, we wrapped up our “Calibrate” series. For the past several weeks, we’ve been walking through the values of our church, and calibrating our minds and hearts around the gospel and our mission as a church. Sunday, we looked at what it means to value and worship God. You can listen to the podcast here.
Here are 3 things to consider from Sunday’s teaching:
1. Everyone is a worshiper.
Often times we limit worship to church vernacular and a Sunday setting. But every human being worships and lives for something. Worship is what controls your life. It’s what you set your affections upon. Our lives rise and fall based on the things we worship.
Tim Keller puts it this way, “Whatever controls us is our lord. The person who seeks power is controlled by power. The person who seeks acceptance is controlled by the people he or she wants to please. We do not control ourselves. We are controlled by the lord of our life.”
2. God’s design is that everything He’s created would be a means to draw our affection to him.
Romans 1:18-32 explains how man’s affections become distorted when the created things become more important than the Creator. The Bible calls this idolatry. It goes like this: God’s good design for sex, when seen as a primary thing and distorted by sin becomes pornography, rape, and homosexuality. Possessions and good gifts from our Heavenly Father, intended to bring us to worship the giver, become materialism, greed, and the pursuit of money to satisfy us. Drink and food become idols of gluttony and alcoholism. People in our lives, through our own selfish inclinations, become a means to personal gain. God’s intent is that we would be a blessing to them, that we would know, love, and serve them. He’s put them in our lives, to grow us more into His image. Our sin turns them from people with beating hearts to objects we use to further our own agenda and gain the accolades of the world. This is idolatry!
Keller describes it like this, “An idol is, paradoxically, a spiritually dangerous power that saps you of all power. This is a triple paradox. Idols are powerless things that are all about getting power. The more you seek power through them, however, the more they drain you of strength. Idols bring about terrible spiritual blindness of heart and mind (Isa. 44:9, 18), and the idolater is self-deluded through a web of lies (Isa. 44:20). Also, idols bring about slavery. Jeremiah likens our relationship to idols as a love-addicted person to his or her lover (Jer. 2:25). Idols poison the heart into complete dependence on them (Isa. 44:17); they completely capture our hearts (Ezek. 14:1–5).
3. Idolatry happens when we leave God on the mountain (distant) and don’t allow him to trickle down into every area of our lives.
In Exodus 32, Moses is up on the mountain with God, receiving the 10 commandments. During that time, the Israelites are down the mountain, under the poor leadership of Aaron, crafting false gods and believing lies about their freedom and future. The same things happens in our lives when we see God as a distant deity who only comes to us through the Pastor or the “spiritually elite” (they don’t exist by the way). When we leave God on the mountain and don’t allow Him to get near us (even though he already is), we are actually worshiping a false god and not the One, True God. When we look at the life of Jesus and specifically, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer, we see that our God is not a distant mountain-dweller. Rather, He is intimately interested and involved in our lives. His desire is that we would know him in every single area of our lives.
To begin to live lives of worship to our Creator, we must first begin to realize that everything we do is worship. The question is, what is the object of our worship? Secondly, we must realize that being a follower of Jesus and surrendering to Him as Savior and Lord calls us into a new identity where every thing we do as believers, is done under the Lord. We work and play and eat and drink, under His Name and His Lordship. It’s all worship. There is no sacred and secular divide in Christ.
Personal application questions:
- How do you tend to leave God on a mountain (distant) and allow idols to take root in your heart? (see Exodus 32)
- How does letting God close, through the work of Christ and presence of the Spirit, enable your idols to be exposed and rooted out?
- Where have your affections been perverted? (see Romans 1)
- Where are you worshiping a person, a possession, a plan/desire instead of Jesus? (see Exodus 32 & Romans 1)
- Where do you need to repent? (see Rom. 2:4)
- Moses was a missionary sent by God to the Israelites. His job was to expose their idols and call them to worship the One, True God. Do you see your life in the same way? How are you actively living as a missionary in your context? Where is it a struggle? How can other believers fight with you? (see Exodus 32)
Remember this amazing truth: God is patient with us. As we see idolatry creep up in our lives, and it’s everywhere, we must trust in the process of sanctification. God is growing us more and more into his image. Unfortunately, the processes goes a lot slower than we often want. None-the-less, He is enabling us to become in practice who we already are in His eyes. Know this, when God looks at you (if you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ to pay the price for your sin and surrendered to Him as Lord of your life), He sees the perfect life of Jesus lived for you. He sees the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, poured out for you. He sees a ransomed and redeemed holy child of His. And by the power of His Holy Spirit inside of you, He enables you to live out your identity and even repent where you fail to do so. You are victorious and must fight, not FOR victory, but FROM victory. And now, as a victorious child of the King, He is sending you to live out His mission and love in a culture that desperately needs to know His love; a culture that is desperately longing to have their affections turned from things that will never satisfy to the One who is all-satisfying.
Simply put, Christians are idolatrous, false worshipers, who have been forgiven and redeemed and are learning to live in that new identity, though we fail so very often. And we live in the mist of idolatrous, false worshipers, who have yet to be forgiven and redeemed and don’t know that the longing of their heart can only be fulfilled in worship to their Creator. So Christian, don’t live your life in judgment of the unbelieving world, as if you have it all together (Read Romans 2). But wake up everyday, recognizing that you are a mess, but a mess that’s been saved by Christ and thankfully is still being saved by Christ (cuz you’re still a mess). And then get out of your bed and love your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and the world with a humble attitude and life that can only point to Jesus as the hero, and the only one who is worthy of all our affections and worship.