One of the more subtle, yet devastating effects of idolatry is the role reversal that takes place between man and his idol, or should I say the idol and his man. What began as a harmless pursuit of happiness ends with self-destructive, guilt-compounding slavery. We pick and choose our idols thinking that their presence will better serve us and enhance our quality of life. The lure of money, beauty, or respect calls out to us, promising us that deep fulfillment and significance will soon be ours. The idols appear as servants that exist for our benefit and our well-being.
This illusion is short-lived. We soon realize that these idols do not serve us. We serve them. Once our idols become entrenched in our hearts, once our good desires become god desires, they assume the position of power. The roles are reversed. They are now the masters. We are the slaves. They now call the shots.
What makes matters worse is that our idols are cruel, unyielding, and relentless masters with no conscience, shame, and mercy. Their requests have no limits. Their demands know no boundaries. With such a stranglehold over our lives, we find ourselves saying things we never thought imaginable, doing things we never thought possible.
For example, how many of us have worshipped at the altar of dominance? The desire to win an argument is present in all of us. We love to be right. We love when others recognize that we are right. But when this desire becomes a god desire, the consequences are devastating. When a spouse refuses to back down, when a spouse refuses to admit defeat, the idol of dominance takes great offense. It convinces us that we must win at all cost. In that moment, nothing is more important than winning. The once sober, level-headed discussion quickly escalates into a verbal barrage where our aim is to shame our opponent into submission. Drawing upon our insider knowledge, we intentionally fling arrows that sink deep into our spouse’s heart. If not shame, we will use intimidation and fear by raising our voices and showcasing our strength by throwing objects, punching walls, and slamming doors. The spouse we vowed to love and cherish now trembles in fear, emotionally broken and spiritually bruised. “We won! We won!” our idol gloats shamelessly. But at what cost? Was it worth it? Deep in our hearts we know our idol and master does not care about us. It is selfish and could care less about the damage our servitude brings so long as it gets what it wants.
There is one master, however, who is not cruel but kind. He is not selfish but selfless. He is not harsh but gentle. His name is Jesus. Unlike the masters of this world, he came to serve, not be served. He came for our joy, our peace, and our well-being, even though it required his misery, his loneliness, and his suffering. His aim is to bring wholeness to your life as well as to those around you. His goal is to give you life abundant. What master in this world can compare to Jesus? No idol loves you as Jesus does. No idol treasures you as Jesus does. No idol bore the wrath of God for you as Jesus did. He is more beautiful, satisfying, and lovely than any idol in this world. Nothing compares to Jesus. He alone is worthy of your affection, praise, and worship. So then, between Jesus and the idols of this world, who will you serve today?
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