You were created with a soul. Nothing we try to fill our soul works. All our attempts to find joy and meaning becomes an epic failure. Your life experience tells you this, all attempts to find meaning, outside of God, are epic failures. Here is why. Your soul craves the touch of God. Your soul craves the healing power of God’s grace. Your soul craves hearing God’s voice speaking into your heart, “I love you.”
That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-29 28 Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. 29 Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. MSG
The problem we have is simple. Our souls feel empty, tired, exhausted and we turn to anything to find joy and happiness. All attempts, outside of God, to find joy and happiness are epic failures but we keep on searching with hope that something, anything but God, will work. Our lives are filled with story after story of failed attempts to find joy and happiness and we just keep on searching. There must something, other than God, that will bring me to life.
From God’s point of view, everything we put into first place in our lives to find joy and meaning, that’s our idol. Let me put it another way. Every excuse we make as to why we cannot put God first in our lives, that is our idol. What is your idol? What is your family idol? What is it that you turn to in life to redeem your soul and it always fails you? What is it that demands so much of your time that it’s unimaginable to put God first? What is your idol?
God said, 8 Behind closed doors, you have set up your idols and worship them instead of me. This is adultery, for you are loving these idols instead of loving me. You have climbed right into bed with these detestable gods. NLT Isaiah 57:8 Did you know that God looks at your relationship with you like a marriage? He loves you and He wants your full attention. If you give that focus, that love, that attention to something else, God views it as adultery. It’s the same as being married and having an affair. Everything we turn to in hopes that we find joy and happiness, that is who we are sleeping with. That’s who we are having an affair with behind God’s back.
Doesn’t make sense, that before we can experience all of God’s love for us, we must stop having an affair? Top three idols of today. Top three love affairs.
Idol #1: Religion. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily. MSG Galatians 2:21
Your soul was created to be redeemed by God’s presence. To experience the power of God’s grace. When someone is not pursuing God’s grace, what are we left with? We try, we work on, we struggle to be good rule-keepers. Try to be good people-pleasers. That’s religion. When our rule keeping and people pleasing takes the place of our time in God’s presence, that’s religion.
If you are having an affair with Religion, a couple things might happen.
- You view yourself as pretty good and find it easy to be critical of others, you call it, ‘being concerned.’
- In your relationships, like marriage, you focus more on how ‘they’ need to change and all along you politely refuse to examine your heart.
- In your relationship with God, you really try to perform well so he will like you more not realizing and enjoying His passionate love for you.
- You struggle to encourage and build others up because to you, they need to know where they don’t add up.
Idol #2: Business. As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. 39 She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. 40 But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. *** I have to stop there. Did you see ‘all she had to do? That was Martha’s To Do list. She was in the presence of God on earth, leaves Him to complete her To Do list. That’s business! We can’t be with God because our To Do list pulls us away from God. Back to the story: Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” *** I want to stop again. Notice Martha didn’t get her way with Mary? She probably guilt bombed Mary, complained, nagged but Mary wouldn’t budge. What do all controlling people do when they don’t get their way? They go to other people to try to get their way. That’s why Martha when to Jesus – to leverage his leadership and get Mary to do what she wanted. Back to the story: 41 The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. 42 One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it – it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” MSG Luke 10:38-42
Your soul was created to be redeemed by God’s presence. To experience the power of God’s grace. When someone is not pursuing God’s grace, what are we left with? We get busy, real busy. We think, ‘If I don’t worry about this, who will?’ We find ourselves unable to prioritize. So we enter everyday chasing endless chores. We grow tired. Exhausted. And a little resentful. If anyone would ever say to us what Jesus said Martha, “…you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing…” we would geek. We would lose our minds.
What is happening? Many people get busy so they can avoid the real issues of their lives. You can actually have an affair with business. If you are, a couple things might happen.
- You become controlling. Everything and everyone must go your way.
- You become resentful and angry because you have to do it all.
- The very thing your heart desperately needs, is the very thing you refuse to do… rest.
- You don’t laugh because life is about a to-do list. No joy, no romance, no fun.
Idol #3: Feelings. …doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. MSG Colossians 3:5-6
Doesn’t this explain our culture’s love for kid’s sports? We feel like we have spend thousands of dollars for the year round elite sporting event so they get the D1 scholarship? If we don’t spend $2,500 for our kids, their skill level will drop. It’s almost like we should be tazed and arrested for child abuse. Let me ask you, what would be better, $2,500 for a travel team or $2,500 for your kids to experience a missions trip so they will see what God can do through them?
Doesn’t this explain our culture’s love affair with sex? What determines our behaviors? God, the creator of marriage and sex, the One who knows how to make it great? No. In our culture it’s feelings. We have feelings and those feelings determine how, who and when I have sex with. No limits, no boundaries and if anyone doesn’t validate my feelings, they hate me!
Doesn’t this explain our culture’s love affair with debt? We buy things because we feel like we need them. Our budget doesn’t determine how we live, our feelings do.
Your soul was created to be redeemed by God’s presence. To experience the power of God’s grace. When someone is not pursuing God’s grace, what are we left with? We chase things and feelings. We chase endless things that always leave us disappointed, in debt and very tired.
If your life is being shaped by things and feelings, a couple things might happen.
- Our feelings determine what we do next, not a commitment to God and advancing His kingdom.
- We live in conflict. We might like God stuff, but our lives aren’t centered on God because there are too many things that have our attention.
- We can feel like we are missing out. Paying off debt, I am missing living a good life. Not on a traveling team, missing out on advancing my kids. Staying pure till marriage, I am missing out on sex and bragging rights.
- It’s easy for us to life a negative and critical life and we struggle to celebrate others. What controls our minds is constant belief that everyone has it better, the politics, we always get the short end of the stick.
Your soul was created to be redeemed by God’s presence. Can you see, idols will destroy us? When we have an affair, a love affair, when we sleep with religion, with business, with our feelings, or whatever else it is, it will ruin our relationship with God and our ability to experience His love?
What is your idol? What is it that you turn to in hopes that it will redeem your soul? What is it that stops you from putting God first in your life?
Get rid of it, it will kill you. This week, put away the idols and focus on God everyday.