God has been doing a number in me about a specific idol for some time, and it’s been an incredibly uncomfortable process. I’ve been praying, repenting, making different choices, letting go, holding on, begging God not to let it be so and of course…by the grace of God relenting. I have tried with all of my might to find my way around this- to use reason and logic and playing with words so I could just keep this idol where it was. Upon ridding my life of this idol I was met with hostility, confusion, sincere questioning to better understand, and judgment from all sorts of people- people that even claimed to be just like me.
I did a quick google search of what exactly an “Idol” was. Here’s what I found:
From Gotquestions.org it reads, “The definition of idolatry, according to Webster, is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God. The most prevalent form of idolatry in Bible times was the worship of images that were thought to embody the various pagan deities.
From the beginning, God’s covenant with Israel was based on the exclusive worship of Him alone (Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7). The Israelites were not even to mention the names of false gods (Exodus 23:13) because to do so would acknowledge their existence and give credence to their power and influence over the people.” Now I know this isn’t some deep theological essay on explaining idols, but for now, it will do.
One of my favorite quotes from an author is when John Piper in, “A Hunger for God” said, “If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”
I was full. I didn’t think I was lacking. I didn’t even think this idol was…an idol. This idol of mine was comfortable. It was accepted by the masses. It was needed. It was so needed and so important, our government ran most of it and did everything they could to make sure everyone had a chance to have it. I guess you could say it was a right. I had a right to it. It dictated when I woke up and how I dressed. It consumed me for six hours a day. Six hours. It took me away from my family for that six hours- intentionally separating me from them. There was no part of my life, my soul, or my mind that wasn’t consumed by this idol. This idol consumed every thought of everyday. Would I get enough sleep? Will I do good enough for it?? What if I don’t do good enough? I have to try harder! I have to do better! It’s up to me and only me to do good enough. The biggest lie of all-if I didn’t do what the idol said I needed to do- my life would be nothing. I would become nothing. Life would be hard, and a hard life isn’t worthwhile. My identity was deeply rooted in this idol. Deeply.
When God first called me to rid my life of this idol….well…it didn’t go like that. First, God had to tell me it was an idol. It had never even occurred to me that this would ever be considered an idol. It took almost two years for me even to get what God was telling me. TWO YEARS. Through some random (by random I mean God ordained) health issues of my son, a side comment by a mentor, and the purchase of a new house I reluctantly (and unknowingly) took the first step away from worshiping this idol. And I’ll be honest- it wasn’t easy. It STILL isn’t easy.
First came the questions from family members. Why was I doing this? Why did I make this choice? I honestly had no clue what to tell them. In all reality, it made zero sense. It looked RIDICULOUS. Stupid even. Heads shook, from not only family but friends. When strangers found out for whatever reason, I was met with strange looks, or the awkward laugh followed by some comment on how I can’t do that. Now that I can see how enslaved I was to it- I get the head shakes. I understand why people don’t see a problem with it. I understand why so many people, most of America really, is a salve to this idol. I get it. I lived it. It’s so engrained in who we are and how we live that nobody questions it. It’s even taboo to question- trust me- I’ve tried. It’s so vital to who we are that we compete, on a national level, with other countries. We compare ourselves to other countries and even try to be better then them. I was an absolute slave to this idol.
But here’s the thing- the Bible says we can serve only one master. In Matthew 6:24 it says, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
Slowly God kept chipping away at this idol, and slowly I stopped fighting so much. Before I knew it, I was saying yes the things I use to say no to- yes to family, and no to the idol. Yes to friends, no to the idol. Yes to relationships. Yes to the community. Yes to togetherness. Yes to calmness. Yes to freedom. You guys- yes to Jesus. It’s.all.about.Jesus.
Though I know there’s more to chip away at still, and always will be, Jesus is whom I want and all I want. Truly. Jesus is why….why I do everything I do. Jesus is why I don’t do the things I don’t do. It’s all about Jesus.
Jesus- His people, His community, and His commandments always come first. School can wait. Yeah, school. The tricky, sneaky, amazingly brilliant idol that is school.
Academics can wait. Chemistry can wait. ABC’s can wait. Prom and the school play don’t matter. When Jesus says He is enough, that He is sufficient- He means it.
Jesus, compassion, service, love, forgiveness, creativity, prayer, truth, freedom, and relationships cannot (and will not) wait. They are now. Jesus IS coming.
So I let go of curriculum. I let go of MY schedule. I let go of expectations. I let go of comparison. I let go of pleasing everyone.and.their.mother. I let the standardized tests go. I let the standards of the state go. Gods standards are now our standards. Our allegiance is to Jesus and Jesus only. And guess what? True, God driven learning happens, and it’s the best kind out there, hands down.
Friends- I’m convinced the American Educational System has, for a long time, been one of our biggest idols. “School” is our God. And this isn’t a homeschooling vs. public school rant. Homeschoolers fall into this trap all the time. I know I did. Private schoolers fall into the trap too. This also isn’t an anti-academia rant, learning is important! However, we’ve falsely believed that we cannot obtain knowledge and wisdom without “school.” I falsely believed I could not GIVE knowledge and wisdom to my kids without school. An American Education was my God. I needed it. It was what I worshiped. It dictated every choice I made for myself, and almost every choice I made for my kids- until Jesus people.
14″ Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. 16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the [e]bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Since there is one [f]bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one [g]bread. 18 Look at [h]the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? 19 What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. “- 1 Corinthians 10