I’ve never worshiped a golden calf in my life, so why was God leading me to a Bible study entitled No Other Gods (Kelly Minter)? Sure, I realize He has a couple of commandments about having no other gods and not making idols, but what does that have to do with me?
Okay, okay, I realize that golden calves probably aren’t our issue today. Rather, when we talk about idols, we typically think of money, power, status, sports, careers, hobbies–anything that comes before our relationship with God. I can honestly say that those things mean nothing to me. I want God in my life. Surely I don’t have any idols, right?
If you have been following this blog since the beginning of the year, then you know that my verse for this year is 1 Corinthians 13:13:
“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (NIV 84).
I’ve been reading passages on love, studying love (Kelly Minter’s What Love Is), listening to teaching cds on love (Joyce Meyer’s Walking in Love), and praying about my love walk. But now the Lord has led me to a Bible study on having no other gods. I wasn’t sure exactly where the Lord was going with this, but I knew we had heard Him right.
God and gods
Day 1 and I was undone:
“They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods” (2 Kings 17:33).
Wait a minute. What?
You mean I can be worshiping the Lord and still serving gods of my own making?
“Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols” (2 Kings 17:41).
So, how do we define an idol? According to Minter, anything “we set our heart on, that motivates us, that masters and rules us, or that we trust, fear, or serve,” other than God (13). Well, okay. I had to really think about that. I am motivated by many things, but the hardest thing for me to accept over the past couple of weeks has been how much I am motivated and mastered by my desire for a Christian family and ministry.
I know. That sounds great, right? I wasn’t raised in a Christian home, but since becoming a Christ-follower, my heart’s desire has been to have a family that lives for Jesus and represents Him well to the world. I have always wanted to be in full-time Christian ministry. But God is showing me that if I can’t be content, peaceful, and joyful unless I can control those outcomes, then I have placed my hope in something other than Jesus.
Worshiping the Lord–but serving my own desires.
His Way or My Way
You see, I can encourage my family to seek the Lord and raise them in a Christian environment, but as they become young adults, I can’t control their choices any longer. They have to make decisions for themselves. I am learning to let go, stop trying to control, and trust God with my family. My hope has to be in Him and not in my dreams.
The same is true of having a Christian ministry. I love Jesus with all my heart, and I want to serve Him and tell others how good He is. I want to share the Gospel and disciple others and intercede for them. But I can’t let my idea of how that should look be greater than my trust in Him. I have to let go and let God have His way.
And I can’t take the gifts He’s given me and turn them into tools for my own glory. When the desire for ministry is greater than the desire to minister, I’m serving an idol, all while I keep worshiping my God.
This past Saturday, I went to a women’s conference, hoping and praying that I would receive a word from the Lord. I wanted direction for my life, my family, my ministry. I wanted confirmation that God was leading me as I have been studying and learning about idols and about love. At the end of the service, the speaker passed out cards that were “born again birth certificates.” Her message on bearing much fruit rang true with my desire to do more for God.
At the bottom of each card was a word and a Scripture. I had prayed and asked God to give me the word He wanted me to have. I looked to the right. My mama had the word love. I looked to the left. My friend had the word service. Either of those would have confirmed what I had been hearing from God. I looked down.
That was my word. I went straight to the altar and asked the Lord what all this meant. I knew it was all related. The Lord showed me that He is indeed calling me to greater love, but it begins with my love for Him, which must be greater than all other loves. Even love for family. Even love for ministry. Even love for life. I can’t love my family well or love those I desire to minister to until I learn what it means to love Him completely. And pride gets in the way of love. Pride is about looking good and being able to control. Pride is about what I can do and what I can have. Real love is about worshiping Jesus above all else and then humbly serving others.
I have to be willing to lay it all down for Him: My pride. My dreams. My plans. My desires. Me. On the altar.
In the book No Other Gods, Kelly Minter said this:
“Perhaps so many of our struggles–lack of freedom, loss of spiritual desire, slavery to image, perfectionism, and infinitely more possibilities–have much to do with God and gods” (11).
I don’t know where you are today. But if you, like me, have been worshiping God but still serving some idols of your own making, then perhaps it’s time to lay it all down. We can sing and worship the Lord all day long, but if we are still serving our own way, it’s time to clear the stage, crush the idols, and make room in our heart for only One.
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