Jason Getman, Author at Grace Church San Antonio

Idolatry to Death, Christ to Life

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“…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” The New King James Version. (1982). (Ro 1:21–23). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

How many of us call ourselves servants of Jesus, yet serve other gods? How many Christians turn to hobbies, significant others or another relationship, or even artificial relationships such as pornography or some celebrity-personality type from TV that we hold as god in our life? When life gets tough, what do you run to? Who do you run to? We should be running to Christ in any time of need. When we run to something else to make us feel better it’s idolatry. Even things that God created for our pleasure, if we run to those things in place of God, it’s idolatry. In the Old Testament, idolatry meant worshipping carved or created images of things such as animals, that were worshipped as gods. Nowadays we don’t get on our knees and bow before our created gods, our worship is much more subtle, but it is worship just the same. When we are hurt or frustrated, and run to a glass of wine or to binge watch our favorite show to make us feel better, instead of running to the LORD, we are saying to God that His comfort is not as good as the comfort of this [insert your idol here].

God is the god of healing, power, and love. In our sinful nature, it is so easy to run to something else instead of God with the pain that can so easily come from day-to-day living. I believe when it all comes down to it, every sin that is committed is at its most basic elements a form of idolatry. When we sin, we are in a way choosing the desires of our flesh over the loving God of the universe. This is why God HATES sin in our lives.

The Gospel of Matthew puts it this way:

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other…” The New King James Version. (1982). (Mt 6:24). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

And the apostle Paul says this:

“For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” The New King James Version. (1982). (2 Ti 3:2–4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

You cannot serve two masters, and you cannot love two lovers. Since God is perfect he can settle for nothing less than perfection. So, in His relationship with us he cannot settle for less than perfect, he cannot and will not settle for us trying to love something on earth (an idol) and also the LORD. This is not TRUE love and it is not love to the fullest and therefore, less than perfect. The Old testament is the story of God creating people, then creating a specific people, out of His love for His Glory. In this story we see, as Christians, our family history. Our inability to serve only the true Lord. The Israelites constantly were blessed in service to the lord and then cursed in their idolatries. Again, our sin nature got in the way and we couldn’t help ourselves. WE couldn’t help ourselves. God saw that we couldn’t help ourselves, and in His love, he sent His son to die in our place. The penalty was paid so that we could have a relationship with Him. WE couldn’t help ourselves, but God could help us, and he did. As a result of receiving the gift of salvation through Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit. Now, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can overcome. We can overcome the grips of sin and death.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” The New King James Version. (1982). (Ro 8:2). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Now that we have received from Christ we can be “free” from these other idols. When we are hurting, we need no longer run to these worldly things or relationships. For these idols in our lives, whatever they may be, if they do not lead to Christ (and they don’t, so don’t try to make a case for why your idol helps people or that it’s somehow “good” for you or others), they lead to death. Seek Christ in all things, He comforts us in our need. Acts tells us that the early Christians were comforted in the Holy Spirit and as a result the gospel was being spread.

“Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.” The New King James Version. (1982). (Ac 9:31). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

If we proclaim Christ as king with our mouth and run to worldly things in time of hurt or frustration, what kind of example do we set to the world? Doesn’t this tell the world that we have a God that we like to talk about but he’s not powerful enough to comfort or heal us? This message to unbelievers is not inviting in the least. In their minds, we are no better off because of the gospel when they see this example. They are bound to the same worldly things already so what do they stand to gain?

So where does this leave us? I believe I can sum it up for you very briefly. As believers in Christ we are to run to the Lord for our comfort, and trust that He will comfort us. I will conclude with the promise Jesus gave us in His sermon on the mount:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.” The New King James Version. (1982). (Mt 5:3–4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Good or God?

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So many times, in trying to pursue God we end up pursuing instead a ritual, habit, or practice (insert your word here) that we believe is the fool proof way to draw closer to Jesus. We look for things of Christ instead of looking for Christ himself. If completing an easy (or even hard) 3 step process brings us closer to God, then what we are really trying to do, albeit subconsciously, is bring, or lure in, God’s gifts to us, instead of chasing after, whole heartedly, the one who died for our salvation.

The founding principle of Christianity is not the cause of Jesus, or the principles of Jesus, but Jesus himself. Jesus never preached of pursuing a cause although his principles have been used to create cause. Love for example, is widely accepted as a good and just cause, worthy of sacrificing for. However, when the topic turns from “love” to “love in Christ” or “in love with Christ” the supportive attitude can often fade. No, Jesus is not about a good cause, he said “Come, follow me” Matthew 4:19 and “…whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39b (emphasis added). Jesus is about us pursuing only him, about us doing what he would ask, and through obedience, draw closer to Him, further from where we were. Constantly becoming more and more like our creator.

I’ve found in my own devotional habits, a time when it didn’t feel like I was drawing closer to Jesus. It felt stagnant. I changed what I was reading, I changed when I was reading, I changed how I prayed, How I worshiped, where I prayed, read and worshiped, and I even tried getting up much earlier than I had been to do these things. Still, it felt stagnant, like I was just spinning my wheels. It was like the scripture I had been reading, that had previously been the very words of God had suddenly just become text on a page. Finally, through a prayer book I was reading at the time, I was challenged to begin to journal. Not being one to back down from a challenge, I tried it. I was then challenged to specifically journal about what God was teaching me at that point in time of my life. I had no idea what the answer to that question was. That’s when I realized that I had been focused on the what instead of the who. I was focused on getting the ritual right to bring God to me, instead of looking only for God and what he was asking of me. There’s no 3 easy steps to Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up the cross and follow me.”(emphasis added). It’s Jesus. It’s not three easy steps (or whatever number), it’s not a good cause, or the latest public support trend. It’s just Jesus. Matthew 6:31-33 says “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Our focus need only be on Him.

In Luke chapter 10, a women named Martha opened her home to Jesus, a principle that Jesus himself taught, “love your neighbor as yourself”. But in verse 42 it was Martha’s sister Mary, who Jesus commended, not Martha. What did Mary do that was so right? Mary put her focus on Jesus and let the other priorities that she would have otherwise tended to, fall so she could put her entire focus on Jesus. Martha, was tending to those other priorities, preparing a meal for a guest in her home (an otherwise noble cause), while Mary was concerned with hanging on to every word the Messiah had to say. So many times in life we have legitimate tasks that are good, but being a Christian isn’t just about the pursuit of good, It’s about the pursuit of Christ. The afore mentioned scripture in Matthew chapter 6 does not say pursue kingdoms and pursue righteousness. It says pursue HIS kingdom, and HIS righteousness. It’s time we stop compromising for principles that are talked about in reference to Jesus and start pursuing Jesus himself.

What are some areas in your life where you’ve been pursuing good things related to Christ instead of Christ himself?

 

Jason

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