|Have you ever witnessed a full-blown tantrum from a child? I’m talking red face, high-pitched screams, hitting, snotting, tears—the whole show. Whether you’re a parent yourself, have younger siblings, nieces or nephews, we’ve all seen how frustrating a tantrum can be to deal with. It’s usually accompanied by blood-curdling screams of “Mine! Mine!” and can take place in various public places just to add on to the embarrassment. I’ve witnessed kids have outbursts because they received consequences from their parents. The child may have taken something that wasn’t theirs or grabbed toys when it clearly wasn’t playtime. Mom tells them to put it down and when they don’t, Mom is forced to rip the toy right out of their hands. Next thing you know, this tiny little human suddenly morphs into an evil gremlin, as the deepest pits of rage are unleashed.
Why is it that ever since we were children we’ve had such an attachment and entitlement to things? Maybe ownership makes us feel like we have control or simply gives us comfort. Whether it’s one or the other, we all have things we tend to hold onto. The nation of Israel was no different. They, like us, were so attached to their things and their ways that God was forced to rip His blessings right out of their hands. This week, our Life Principle was to put God in His right place. God, our Father and Creator, has commanded that we put away our idols for good. Pastor Adam taught that idols aren’t necessarily a half-fish-half-man statue like Dagon, but anything in our lives that we place above or beside the Lord. This means that even “good things” can become idols.
Our human hearts tend to operate as idol factories when we’re not walking in the Spirit. Money, popularity, jobs, families, success, and comfort are just a few of the common idols we tend to place next to or even higher than God, Himself. But we have the opportunity to lay down our idols before Him and experience forgiveness and true fulfillment. Yet, just as God demonstrated when He destroyed Dagon in the temple of the Philistines, He won’t share our hearts with another. He wants all of us and, like a good parent, He will take the idol out of our hand if that’s what it takes. But it will hurt.
So why even let it get to that point? We can be model Christians on the outside—serving, giving, praying—but the Word says if I “have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2). Our idols destroy our love relationship with Jesus. Jesus doesn’t share the right hand of God. Glory, honor, and power are His alone. Idols will harden our hearts, but the Lord can “remove the heart of stone from [our] flesh” and give us a new heart (Ezekiel 36). Are there fears in our lives that cause us to cling to false comforts? What do we need to hold with open hands? Or put down completely? Psalm 103 says, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.” Maybe we need to come to Jesus and ask what shape our idols are taking. Instead of fearing man, culture, and comfort, let’s confess and fear God alone.
Michelle Townsley is a young adult devoted to loving Jesus and loving people. A current staff member at Coast Hills, her passion is to “present everyone mature in Christ” whether through women’s discipleship in high school ministry, with young adults at Patmos: Reality Discipleship, or through communications and the written word. Michelle loves ministry, summer camp, and basketball in that order.