Earlier this summer we put up a small quote on our kitchen frame. It says...
We've been dwelling on this for the past month, so Kendra and I decided to post parallel blogs on the topic. You can link to hers and get her take as well.
It is so easy to think we are living (or performing, really) for a bigger audience. Consider when we conform our behavior for the sole purpose of seeking acceptance by our peers. You know...when we begin to sound or look like everyone else, so that we can be "one of them" or even worse, because we think that will it will make us better with God. It was almost hard to even type that last sentence (who do we think we are, that we can do something to make our relationship better with God?)
Last week in church we were discussing Jeremiah and turned to the topic of idols. We know that God warns us not to worship idols. As a child, I always thought that was an easy commandment (like "Don't murder!"...I was a young kid, unless you could murder someone with legos, chances are I was safe with this command). We didn't have statues or trinkets around the house. I am not a fan of Jesus candles or lawn statuary. So, like murder, I never thought idol worship was an issue for me when I was growing up. But idol worship is much bigger than images and icons, right? We create plenty of idols, don't we?. Even in very good churches we are quick to return to our idols. Consider the Israelites camped at the base of Mt. Sinai, while the thunder and clouds surrounded the mountain, they were busy asking the "associate pastor" to help them find something new to worship while they changed out of their clothes.
But that's not even what I'm talking about. I am thinking of the idols that are insidious and hard to pinpoint.
It's easy for us to admit that money or success can become an idol, that's what good Christians are supposed to say when they are called on in bible study. But what about those things that are closer to who we are? What about those ways we behave or the things we do for an audience of many? To get even closer to home here on theMangoTimes, what about the way we choose to raise our family or educate our children? Can our family become an idol? What about the way we dress? Can our outward appearance become an idol? What about the way we worship? Aside from a golden calf in the middle of the sanctuary, can our approach to worship become an idol, because we are doing it right? Rhetorical questions, sure...each one of those can become idols in our life.
We don't stop our stewardship in these areas. Know what I mean? We are still to pursue being a Godly family. We are still to pursue worship that is theocentric and holy. We are still to consider our appearance. I know that for me, it is occasionally good to stop and reevaluate.
Am I doing these things out of obedience to God or because I want to please men? Am I a spirit-led individual living and breathing for an audience of one or am I a self-pleaser or a man-pleaser and doing what I think is right in the sight of myself and others? Don't listen to me...please don't listen to me. Listen to Paul, "For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever." He also said, "For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s."
It is so easy to become a people-pleaser. Our intent to pursue righteousness can so quickly depart from depending upon God's grace to following man-made ideas or philosophies. We begin simply, "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Then somewhere in that simplicity our focus changes ever so slightly. We can become ensnared by a desire to please our neighbor. Even more insidious are friends or family who require our behavior to mimic theirs for us to be accepted or deemed worthy. Without even skipping a beat, we suit-up because we desire affirmation. I can picture some Israelites at the golden calf ceremony that knew it wasn't the right thing to do...but they joined the party anyway, because they wanted to be like everyone else and that was the new standard for holiness.
Doug Wilson spoke on this in his book, Future Men. I remember that I like what he had to say about one man binding the conscience of another man. It stuck with me ever since:
"With this understood, we can assert that because God is our Lord, He alone is Lord of the conscience. This means that, in matters of faith and worship, men cannot command us in His name when He has not spoken. Obedience to men is certainly permissible, but we are prohibited from obeying men as though they had the right to bind the conscience in the same way that God does."
Doug Wilson, Future Men (Page 76)
Even better, consider what God says in the book of Ezekial when it comes to us making idols:
"Thus says the Lord GOD: “Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols, 5 that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols.”
God wants our heart! We are to live for an audience of one!
Quietly Making Noise,