Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Idolaters? Us?

We sit in the audience listening to him.  Perhaps he's the pastor at our church or maybe he's a speaker at an event or conference.  He's speaking about idolatry and since none of us (I hope) worship statues anymore he focuses on idols in our hearts. 

Our minds whizz with scenes from that latest TV show we watched.  We think of a clever thing about it we could say to our best friend when we meet her next.  We try to push these thoughts to the back of our mind, for now, and we listen, more or less attentively.

"These idols aren't always false gods," he says. "They're whatever steals our heart and focus from God.  It could be your financial prosperity, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your looks, some material possession, your family..."

We listen, checking off boxes in our minds. Financial prosperity? I can always use money, but it doesn't matter that much to me.  Boyfriend or girlfriend? I don't have one of those.  My looks?  For heaven's sakes, I'm not vain. I spend time on my appearance but I don't obsess about it.  Some material possession?  No, I can't really think of any I idolize.  My family? For pity's sake, I don't love them nearly as much as I should!

All boxes done.  All clear.  We're not idolaters. He finishes his speech and we go home.

We sign into pinterest and scroll through the pins on our home page. We see a Sherlock pin. It says "This show has taken over my life!"  We smile.  We repin.  We move to other pins and grin with the rest of the fandom that shares in our obsession.  Then we write a blog post about how amazing this character that we love is. Maybe he's Sir Percy Blakeney.  Maybe he's the Doctor.  Maybe he's Mr. Knightley.  Emails whizz between us and that friend who just happens to share our obsession.

After a long and fruitful evening on the internet, we go upstairs and rush through our devotions.  Somehow we just can concentrate on them tonight.

In the few minutes before we fall asleep, our mind goes back to that speech.  It was a good speech.  Did he forget to mention anything you could idolize? We think through it again.  No, we don't think so.

Then we fall asleep and spend the night dreaming about Lord Peter Wimsey.

"These idols aren't always false gods," the speaker had said. "They're whatever steals our heart and focus from God." 


Of course not.  Those movies, those books, those shows, they're (for the most part) clean and appropriate.  They're exciting and well-done and have a good moral message.  Some of the most loving, least idolatrous people we know love them.  Those things are.... good. 

But do you remember that gold the Israelites in the desert used to make the calf idol? It was perfectly good gold.  The problem wasn't with the gold, it was what they made it into. The human heart is expert at fashioning idols.


God help us.


Kirsten Fichter said...

Wow, Maria. My thoughts exactly... I can't tell you how much I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. I'm actually working on a similar post myself. Great minds think alike...


Hannah Barta said...

Oh, amen! This is such a struggle!

Hayden said...

Ouch, dear. Ouch. But so true. That's why, though I laugh at those pins "such-and-such-has-taken-over-my-life" because I know they're in good fun, a part of me also cringes just a little.

Wonderful, though-provoking post that hits a little too close to home!

Melody said...

May I just say.

Amen. And amen.

Now, I'm not going to sit here and be all "ooh, good for Maria Elisabeth, some people in the blogging world really need this" because it isn't as if I can't use it too; even though, quite frankly, I don't really tend to obsess about things quite that much... haha, well, it's true. But it doesn't mean it doesn't apply to me, too... because it does, and it's something I've been thinking a bit about lately. I appreciate you actually writing this, m'dear!

Alexandra said...

Wonderful post and great reminder, dearie. Thanks for sharing!!!

Miss Dashwood said...

...What Hayden said.

I've been convicted of this a LOT recently... I so casually use the word "obsession" when I'm speaking of something I love (sheesh, I even overuse the word "love" when speaking of things I *like*!) and lately I've been thinking about how much time I spend with things that aren't really important in the long run... consciously making an effort to spend more time in the Word and less time reading other books (no matter how good they may be), listening to music, watching other movies, etc., is something I need to work on. Thanks for an all-too-timely reminder!

Jemimah said...

Now this is a wonderful (maybe a little painful as well) reminder to reflect on our latest fandoms and obsessions. It's so easy to forget that we might be idolizing these things. Well said, Maria!