I’ve been meditating on the concept of idols, and how people invest in different addictions over God.
People who are truly free don’t feel the need to appease the demands of substances, foods, experiential highs, or other people’s approval. They don’t run around trying to appease condemnation before it even comes. Slaves do that. Free people in Christ do not.
Gambling, sexual addictions, binge eating, alcoholism, and a laundry list of other things feel like being enslaved. It feels like you’re paying for something; and that what you sacrifice in order to experience is a monetary transaction through which you can never be satisfied. Like the pursuit of reckless wealth, these extremes steal stability and make it impossible to gain any more meaning from life than illusions of reality offered by the high. By distorting a person’s options in order to seek after promises that were always fabricated, finding a true promise becomes lost in the haze.
Just because God forgives our sin doesn’t mean he wants us to remain in it. While there are some structural insecurities within people that will only be corrected at the time of Jesus, God knows exactly what is making each and every one of us sick, and he doesn’t suddenly become okay with it. The addictions and the vanity and the anger issues and the pride are still not okay with him. While we are all born with brokenness that has to be reconciled for proper use under Christ, only by allowing God’s will to become a part of our lives can we receive the good things all of us are subconsciously looking for. Christ’s death and resurrection ensured that we could inherit the things of God, but only by grace. While we are forgiven immediately, we have to surrender the things that have made us ill to begin with. And fun fact? That process can be grueling, even though it’s full of good fruit.
God takes away our idols because if he doesn’t, we will not be able to follow Christ (tolerate the presence of Jesus) long enough or with full enough hearts to experience the miracles already provided by his son. It’s not that the promise isn’t already delivered to those people willing to surrender. It’s that we humans, in our selfishness, are too stupid to go after it. As it stands, God doesn’t owe us anything. It was out of love that he sacrificed Christ, which is how we can know that he is able to provide. Nothing on this earth that we could ask for is more expensive than Jesus, because nothing else on this earth (or above) has the same power to forgive and reconcile as did his blood. We look after fame, fortune, influence, and celebrity, but the most expensive gift dripped down from a grisly corpse nailed to a cross. His perfect blood dripped down from that cross and must have painted the dirt, and in Jesus, Abel’s blood found appeasement. There is nothing too high or too awesome for God. He has already given his best gift away.
Christ bought us an eternal future based on grace. We can go ahead and seek our glory through him. Instead of the comfort and glory of this earth, why not receive a better measure on Judgment Day, after a lifetime of serving the king? The rewards we find on the earth die with us, but in Christ, we receive in grace what we did not sow.
If Christ was perfectly worthy and still chose to die, how precious we must be in the eyes of God. Jesus came to fulfill a prophecy, but he still chose to die under perfect free will. Without a will tainted by earthly covetousness and stealing, Christ offered himself up once and for all for us. He fulfilled his mission by choice, out of love. He gathers what he paid for every day, as people choose to believe in a guaranteed promise. The enemy does his best to convince us that our brokenness has created an irreparable bridge between us and God, the Creator and his created. By denying Christ’s death and resurrection, we are encouraged to stay away.
If you can get past the first leap of faith, you can get past the rest of it. If you can believe that the Son of God willingly died for your sins and rose back to life, then all the other promises follow. God’s most precious gift paid the way for our promise, and without believing in his life, we can’t understand the deeper things of God. Next to him, they pale in comparison. They are infinitely less precious. So you win the lottery. So you get that job. You’ll still be dead in 80 some years or less. By grace, you can reap what you didn’t sow in God.