Thursday, May 15, 2014

Breaking Idolatry

Imagine you live in Northern California in the mid-1970s.  Every day, you ride a bus to work.  You notice a scruffy-looking young man on the bus.  He tells you he’s a computer programmer.  Everything you know about computers comes from sci-fi movies, but this kid seems to have some interesting ideas.  He wants to create a company that will put computers into the homes of every American.  It’s going to change everything about how we live…how we communicate with each other, entertain ourselves, even pay our bills.  You become captivated with this idea.  The kid needs money—a lot of money—to get his little venture off the ground.  So you sell your business, put a second mortgage on your home, withdraw all your savings, including your kids’ college fund and your retirement account, and become the first investor in the Apple Computer Company.  I’m no finance expert, but I’m guessing that a person who bought into Apple in 1976 would be substantially wealthy today.  It’s easy for us to see that now.  But imagine being that first investor back then.  People would think you had lost your mind!  “Why are you sinking everything you own into some fruit company?  Is this some kind of hippy cult?  Have they brainwashed you?” 

Scripture tells us that following Jesus is the best decision you can possibly make, but in order to experience the fullness of what God promised us in Christ, you have to go all in.  Jesus said this again and again, in various ways, but perhaps most memorably in Matthew 10:39, Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses His life for my sake will find it.  If you want to live life on your terms, but add Jesus into the mix, it won’t work.  He is either Lord of all, or He isn’t Lord at all.  That's how exclusive Jesus is.  That's the jealousy of God.  We have to deal with the idols in our lives, or they will get in the way of us enjoying the treasure that is Christ.

The silly little parable above is my modern paraphrase of two short parables Jesus told in Matthew 13:44-46.  We'll look at that passage this Sunday, as we wrap up our series on the Jealousy of God.  We'll talk about how we can deal with the idols in our own lives.  But for now, consider this quote from the late, great Henri Nouwen, regarding that parable:

“You have found a treasure: the treasure of God’s love.  You know now where it is, but you are not yet ready to own it fully.  So many attachments keep pulling you away.  If you would fully own your treasure, you must hide it in the field where you found it, go off happily to sell everything you own, and then come back and buy the field…the spiritual life is a long and often arduous search for what you have already found.”

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