I know whereof I speak; I know that John Calvin was correct when he said the heart is an idol factory. I used to say the word ‘idolatry’ but not understand the source, I knew I was an idolater and yet I didn’t know to what extent and how that was ingrained into my heart/mind. I grieved over that for years, I asked those I was close to if they though I would be an idolater all of my life and of course they couldn’t answer that. There were some who judged, there were others who came alongside and loved me anyway.
Then there came the day that the Lord gave me the very thing I didn’t know that I was even seeking and that was a look into my own heart at the sin of idolatry. I will never, never forget that day and you can call it an experience if you want to and you can even do that in a derogatory manner, makes no difference to me. I sobbed great tears for a very long time, tears of sorrow, tears of repentance, tears of knowledge and tears of joy! Oh how I thanked Him and I still to this day remember that I will always be a ‘continuing repentant idolater’.
It can actually be a daily endeavor sometimes to recognize the temptation of idolatry. It takes wisdom and discernment that can only come from God, a discernment that it isn’t the situation that I’m in that causes the idolatry, it isn’t the people that are in my life, it is literally in my own heart. The wisdom is certainly not in my flesh, my flesh loves idolatry! My flesh loves to put my identity and my trust in any thing other than the God who created me. The flesh loves what it can see and touch, be it a husband, a mother, a job, a place, a church, children, family, friends and certainly has to include the biggest idol of all for each of us; ourselves. The idol list is endless that is why Calvin likened it to a factory don’t you imagine?
I’ve blogged about this before so you might wonder why now, why again? It is because I have been reminded of this recently by the remarks of several, not only about me but about others as well and those remarks have included the pastor that I loved very much, a pastor who was kind and tenderhearted, a pastor who knew me because he wanted to know me as one of the flock. I idolized many things in those days including him. He was the first godly Christian man that I ever knew and he left a lasting impression. I would bemoan my idolatry and he would tell me that all men have a measure of idolatry in their heart. He would tell me to read the Word pointing me to Christ and His Work but I didn’t have the same ears to hear the Gospel then that I do now. I know that He would be extremely disappointed in me today because I’ve left the membership of the church but often we are called to do things that disappoint others in order to stand by our own convictions.
I bring him up because it was pointed out recently that he had written a little booklet called “To Walk in the Light" and the last chapter in the booklet is on reconciliation. That is one of the lasting things that I remember from his ministry and that is how to reconcile. It is one of the greatest joys in our life to truly reconcile with a brother or a sister in Christ; to forgive as we have been forgiven and to mutually submit to one another in that process. It is never a one sided endeavor, it requires humility on both sides.
If you knew him at all you can along with me know that he would have sought reconciliation in this ‘church’ situation and in order to do that he wouldn’t be on facebook encouraging the saints to paint an ugly picture of another saint, he wouldn’t be blogging character assassinations and he would have publicly rebuked anyone who said they were a follower of him. He didn’t encourage hatefulness or backbiting, either with his words or with his silence, in fact in his little booklet he said this about a Christian:
“Neither should a Christian harbor in his heart hatred, a sour attitude, or a desire to ‘get even. Neither should he deem it necessary to defend himself from real or imaginary slights, engage in sarcastic ‘put downs’ and tale bearing, or scheme to take advantage of others” (I think this could also include others defending or doing the put downs for us)
It certainly isn’t idolizing the former days to recognize that God truly used a man to put before His people, not only truth but godly principles as well; after all He does use sinful men to do that throughout our journey. The Lord, of course, is the only One to teach us. To lead people to that conclusion is somehow demeaning to God’s purpose for the man’s life and we should remember that there is a great difference between idolatry and thankfulness. We should always be thankful for those the Lord brings into our lives as we sojourn here.
Grace and Peace!