Do you remember that scene in Tommy Boy where Chris Farley backs David Spade’s car door into a pole and it rips the door off? Remember how Tommy (Farley) tries to “fix” the problem and simply place the door back on, so that whenever Richard (Spade) open the door it falls off in his own hand. As the door falls off into Richard’s hands Tommy is heard screaming in shock (the way only Farley could do), “What’d you do!”
Doesn’t this seem very similar to what Adam and Eve did in the Garden? Isn’t this what you and I still do today?
Rather than coming to the Lord in faith and repentance we are like Adam. We try to flee the presence of the Lord. I don’t think it is necessarily that we do not desire a relationship with the Almighty.
We want to be in His presence.
But we don’t want to be naked in His presence.
And so we run away and try to sew fig-leaf garments for ourselves. We’d rather have itchy undies than face up to our fall. And so we hide and try to fix things on our own. And when our shallow efforts at “fixing it” are exposed we turn to our fellow man and say, “What’d you do!”
It is because I do not want to be naked in His presence that I often run away from the heart work of exposing idols. It takes much grace for me to come to a spot where I am willing to look at the idols in my heart that are often driving me more than the Lord Jesus.
But whenever I remember verses like Romans 8:1 I decide to come out of hiding and face some of these idols. In those moments i have found Tim Keller’s book, Counterfeit Gods, to be very helpful. Here he gives a few suggestions for uncovering idols of the heart. I will summarize these four questions:
- What do your thoughts effortlessly go to when there is nothing else demanding your attention? (That may be what you are daydreaming about right now)
- How do you spend your time and money?
- How do you respond to unanswered prayers and frustrated hopes? What are those things in your life that when God says “no” or “wait” it is met with explosive anger or deep despair? These are your functional idols.
- What are your most uncontrollable emotions? Where do you find fear? Anger? Despair? Guilt? This is often where we can find many of the deep idols in our hearts.
I know from the character of God and the work of Jesus that whenever these idols are exposed, and whenever I bring them to the Lord through faith and repentance, they will be met with love, mercy, and grace.
There is never a time when I will go to the Lord with an idol that is so vile that He will refuse to meet it with grace. Though the idol and its damning effects may be more than I can bare to see—I know that Jesus Christ has already peered into the cup of wrath, saw that sin, and drank it’s punishment to the dregs. None of my idolatrous affairs will surprise Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, we cannot take idolatry as a passive thing. The beautiful thing about our union with Jesus is that he does not just sit passively by and allow us to wreck our lives on these idols. No. He lovingly exposes our less wild lovers. He exposes and strips bare those false gods that will only leave us wrecked and ruined. He does this because He desire to replace them with strong affections for Himself. Christ is a jealous husband. And that is a good thing.
He will not let you go. He is passionately dedicated to you in this rooting out of sin and unbelief. We will find that each idol will be met with grace, love, and power to change our affections and our worship. Christ is a jealous husband but He is also patient.
May we join with him in rooting out these idols. They are ripping us off. I pray that we might join with the Spirit in searching our hearts for God-belittling idols and that in so doing we might also trust Him to root them out and replace them with God-honoring affections.