Today's stumbling blocks & idols
When I read the Old Testament, I can't help but think, "Really, Israelites!? Again, you are turning away from God and worshipping idols." The one example of this that always gets me takes place right after God has freed the Israelites from Egypt (Book of Exodus).
God has freed His chosen people (Israelites) from shackles and chains. Yet, almost immediately after being rescued & delivered, the Israelites are complaining. And Moses has to intercede time and time again. Moses looks away for a second and at that moment, the Israelite people construct and start worshipping a Golden Calf (Exodus 32).
Throughout the Old Testament, God is frustrated with His people for doing things just like this. Worshipping things rather than God. Worshipping idols rather than focusing on being in relationship.
And maybe you are like me and try to distance yourself from the Israelite people saying, "I don't act like that! I don't worship idols. I don't worship things." But, then I wonder if we are doing similar things but just the idols have changed.
I've been reflecting a lot about this, because as a young adult, there is an idol I admit I have been chasing: Achievement. And I don't think I am alone in my pursuit or focus on climbing the ladder. I, like so many, want to prove myself. My aim everyday is to attack that day & achieve something. Yet, when I do that, I believe I miss what my calling is about.
As a pastor, servant, steward, and disciple, my call is not to acheive things. When I am in this mode, ministry is just a list of tasks. It's rungs on a ladder I have to climb in order to end up somewhere higher.
But, that's not the life I, nor any of us, have been called to. Instead, I have been called to be in relationship. To love God with all my heart, soul and mind. To love my neighbor AS myself. Not more than myself. Not less than myself. But as myself.
Maybe you find yourself in a similar boat. Are you about achievement or are you about being in relationship? Are you more focused on having a relationship with Christ or getting work done? Are you more focused on being helpful to your co-worker or on checking one more thing off your to-do list?
Achievement is one of many idols today. Other big ones I see are reputation and legacy. In school, I feel that's the big idol our young people are fighting. Young people want to be cool, to fit in, and belong. And it's OK to want to belong. That's human. But, it becomes an idol when we become obsessed with it or change who God created us to be in order to keep up a certain reputation.
As we get older, I think our motivations shift to wanting to leave a legacy. We want to leave our mark on society. We want our name to be remembered. Yet, again, this isn't the life Christ called us to. Instead, Christ called us into a life of relationship. Christ called us into community. We are gathered, called and sent into the world not to make our names great. Instead, we are called to always be pointing to Jesus.
As I reflect more and more, I realize it's NORMAL to have idols in our lives. The Israelites, like us, were human. The important thing to do is to name our idols. To be aware of them in our lives and then allow God to turn us around. To turn us back to Him.
When we do that, we return to our purpose. We return to the life God intended for us. We return to being people centered in relationship and people focused on being in relationships with others.
God bless you all & the work you do!