Replacing Idols

Friday, July 18, 2008
Once we have gotten into the process of unmasking our idols of the heart comes the life-long work of replacing them with the one true God, who gives us the freedom and security we want more than anything else.

The best way to develop the habit of idol replacement is by training yourself to catch the moment when you begin to think, act, or speak in such a way that suggests you are bowing your knee to an idol. In that moment, see the idol for what it is and replace your heart's affection for that idol with something else - - a "burst of affection" for Christ (again, I depend on the writing and speaking of Tim Keller of New York City for my thinking here).

The thing to focus on is Christ before he came to earth.

He was in heaven, at God's right hand, wholly complete, lacking nothing.

Except one thing.


Christ gave up everything he had to become a person. And in doing so he endured physical limitation and pain, misunderstanding, hunger, betrayal, and eventually physical torture and death. Worst of all, he endured separation from his Father, with whom he had enjoyed unbroken relationship.

Don't gloss over that last sentence. Separation from the Father is - by definition - Hell. Christ endured Hell for each of us.

That is where the gratitude comes from. Someone has loved me that much. And even better, has triumphed over the death that made it necessary for him to go there. Now, when God looks at me, he sees Christ - I get credit for everything that Christ did, even though I did nothing to deserve it. Even though I deserved the exact opposite. Even though the whole reason he had to go through what he had to go through was me!

Love like that makes every idol - success, image, family, control, security - pale in comparison. Christ satisfies every desire the idols falsely promise to meet. And a lifetime of relentlessly focusing on that truth - and all the ways that truth plays out in our lives - is the way to replace false idols with the one true God, who alone is the one true way to joy, security, and freedom.

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