“You shall have no other God’s before me. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.”
I will be the first to admit that my heart is so quickly drawn toward the immediate and temporary pleasures of this world. The things that God has provided for our good so quickly compete with our love and affection for Christ. I have found this struggle to be exposed in an even greater way during seasons of suffering. When pain or disappointment presses in, rather than running to Christ for our comfort and needs, it’s all too easy to pour our time, energy, and thoughts into lesser things that satisfy and distract for a moment. It’s easier. It’s less work. And it provides momentary bursts of happiness. But it always disappoints and it eventually leads us into bondage when we need more and more of it to distract and fill our emptiness.
I have chosen a picture of technology, not because it’s the only thing that can easily become an idol or because it is innately wrong, but because I think it is one of the greatest threats to our relationship with Christ in today’s day in age. I have found this to be a subtle trap because it’s so easy to excuse as something we “need” for daily life. And because it’s subtle, we often don’t realize how much it has trapped us in it’s vicious cycle with its constant distraction and addicting desire for affirmation from those on the other side of the screen – until we find ourselves exhausted, unable to focus, and empty.
Friends, our phones, computers, and social media accounts can be incredibly useful, a gift that allows us to stay connected with those far away, and even used to glorify God and share the good news of Christ with those we never could have otherwise.
But it can also rob us of peace, joy, and rest when we begin to put it in the place of God – in our time, thoughts, and desires. Especially if we are hurting, its constant distraction can become a drug that we must ingest or else we might have to face our pain and the God who is allowing it.
The cost isn’t worth it, friends. Whatever we have to do, whatever idols are robbing us of relationship with our Heavenly Father, we must fight as though our life depends on it. Not out of guilt or to earn God’s love, but for our own protection, joy, and freedom in Christ. If the enemy can’t make us reject God outright, then he will bury us in anything that will distract us from life-giving relationship and communion with him.
What does this look like practically? I think it will be different for each of us. But we do ourselves a disservice when we address the idols of our heart with nothing more than boundaries and restrictions. Though these can be necessary and helpful, if we ignore the issues of the heart that lie beneath the surface, we will only find ourselves in a vicious cycle of striving to rid ourselves of symptoms without addressing the illness.
Rather than simply restricting ourselves from that which distracts us, let’s confess our sinful pull towards loving this world and ourselves above our Creator and Savior, and pray for a deepening of our love for Christ. As our love for him grows, the power and attraction of these idols begin to lose their luster and we grow in greater freedom and joy.
Would you join me in asking the Lord to open our eyes to any idols that have taken first place in our life (technology, relationships, job, talents, children, popularity, success, health, etc.)? Let’s encourage and challange one another to honor Christ as the center and Lord of our life and daily ask for him to increase our desire to worship HIM alone as our source of comfort, joy, peace, and purpose. He is worthy.