Freedom-in-Fellowship One-to-One: Article 5
By Brenda Daniels
What makes you uncontrollably angry, anxious, or despondent? The answer to this question, posed by Tim Keller in his book Counterfeit Gods, can reveal what it is you really worship.
To illustrate: Years ago I joined a bookclub. At the first (and only) meeting I attended I was so intimidated by the knowledgeable members and the palatial home in which the meeting was held that I never went back. I just couldn’t compete. Fast forward 25 years (and lots of books later) and I had worked up the courage to join another bookclub. Meetings had started off okay but at the most recent gathering I attended those familiar feelings of intimidation beset me. Everyone else seemed so learned, so much more interesting and accomplished than I was. I left the meeting feeling depressed.
In answer to the question posed by Keller above what can I learn from this incident? That my god of success, my god of achievement, of prestige, of academic excellence actually just doesn’t cut it. When compared to other people more successful, clever and prestigious than myself that god withers and fails me. And leaves me empty.
What is it for you? What god leaves you angry, anxious or despondent if you don’t get it?
The funny thing is, the rewards we don’t get can actually be really good things, like: job accolades for work well done; a healthy body after careful attention to diet and lifestyle; respect from colleagues; well-rounded children.
So how come these “good” things become idols? Keller suggests two reasons. One, if anything, even (or especially) a good thing, becomes “more fundamental than God to your happiness, meaning in life, and identity, then it is an idol.” Two, “the human heart is an idol factory.” (Counterfeit Gods). It is our natural bent, even as Christians, to constantly seek satisfaction in anything other than God.
So what do we do about this problem? The answer, or at least the process, is never going to be a simple one. But we can start by, however imperfectly, turning our longings to God, meditating on his word, and training our hearts to love him above all else.
Proverbs 3:13-16 says:
13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Take some time with your Freedom in Fellowship partner this month to encourage her to worship God above all other gods. If you feel brave enough, share with your sister in Christ what gods it is you worship. And ask her to grapple in prayer with you, asking God to help your heart find ultimate satisfaction and blessing in Christ.