Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fear and Idolatry

One afternoon my wife was listening to the radio. A show about the failing economy came on and the speaker announced "I want you to think of the thing which you are most afraid." He paused. "Now – what came to mind? Was it being poor, losing a loved one, maybe cancer?" Another long pause… "If the thing you fear most was anything other than being distant in your relationship with Jesus Christ, then your priorities are out of order."

Tim Keller recently gave a talk at the Gospel Coalition Conference that focused on the issue of Idolatry (download video or audio here). He said that Salvation is putting your hope in Jesus, but Idolatry is putting your hope in anything other than Jesus. He also said that fear is Idolatry, because the thing you fear has become too high of a priority for you. So high that you become fearful when you imagine life without it. Security, respect, and truth can become gods if they are the ultimate source of your purpose and fulfillment.

Keller also commented on Martin Luther's view on the 10 Commandments. Luther saw all of the commandments as flowing out of the first one: The Lord your God is one; you should have no other God's before him. Thus if you break any of the other 9, you are breaking them because you failed to understand the first command. Why do you steal? Because the possession has become an Idol – a god above the one true God. Why do you lie? Because you value people's perception of you more than God's perception of you. These things are Idolatry.

Voddie Baucham recently gave a message at FamilyLife addressing this very issue (video of Part 1 and Part 2). He said "if you struggle with anger – getting angry at your wife. You don't have an anger problem, you have a worship problem." You get angry because you put have something else as a higher priority than worshipping and pleasing Christ. At that point, you have fallen into Idolatry.

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