Monday, February 6, 2012

Hidden in the heart but exposed to God

Idolatry defined
What’s an idol? “An idol is something within creation that is inflated to function as God.  All sorts of things are potential idols, depending only on our attitudes and actions toward them...Idolatry may not involve explicit denials of God’s existence or character.  It may well come in the form of an over-attachment to something that is, in itself, perfectly good...An idol can be a physical object, a property, a person, an activity, a role, an institution, a hope, an image, an idea, a pleasure, a hero - anything that can substitute for God.”  Richard Keyes

“The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much.”  John Calvin

These quotes unearth the meaning in Ezekiel 14:1-5. Idolatry of the heart is possibly more corrosive to spiritual health than any physical object.

When the elders came to Ezekiel for wisdom and spiritual direction God rejected their show of piety. They drew near with their lips but their hearts were far from God. They were estranged; God was not the lover of their souls because idols reigned in their hearts. 

Your private world
The real you is the hidden you. It’s the part of you that no one sees or knows. Some call it your private world.

The real you is the part of you that fears, loves, broods, makes decisions. All our thoughts and actions begin inside our hearts before they become visible.

This is why Jesus must be Lord of everything—our inner and outer worlds. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

The hidden you is often where all the spiritual battles are fought with idolatry. 

When idols lie hidden in our hearts
First of all, you can’t see what’s in my heart. I can play the religious role, say the right words, do the right things, attend prayer gatherings, and you would never know that my heart is captured by a rival king.

People look at the outward form, but God looks at the heart (I Samuel 16:7).

And then Jesus often said that a person is defiled not by what comes out of the mouth, but what comes from the heart (Matthew 15:19-20).

Smashing idols of the heart
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations (Ezekiel 14:6).

Acknowledge the fact that a thing or person probably means more to you than God
Repent and turn to God
Claim the promises that God will give you a new heart to love and obey his word (Ezekiel 36: 25-27).

Reader: How would you define an idol for 21st century people?