A Fight for Control
Who’s the Boss?
This was a popular 1980’s TV show. It used an unusual home situation to highlight issues inspired by the title. Tony Danza played a former baseball player who with his daughter moves into the home of a powerful female executive, Judith Light. His job is to manage the home and help with her young son while raising his daughter. The plotlines of the show centered around the question of which character made the ultimate decisions in the home. Each had the best interests of their children in mind so the situations often became confusing and difficult. The “boss” was determined by who had the better argument or appeal to the emotions involved. The one in charge varied according to the feelings of everyone involved. It changed from week to week depending the circumstances and story line. While this is obviously an outdated TV reference, we can get caught in this same reoccuring storyline in our lives as Christians. No, not a 1980’s TV show, but a constrant struggle to figure out who is the authority in our lives. It is so easy to get confused on the question of who is the real boss in our world. Hint – it is not you! We love to allow things other than God to take His place and cause chaos in our homes. Modern day idolatry is just as much of an issue 2000 years after Jesus as it was in the Old Testament. It just looks different.
Idolatry seems so antiquated in today’s world. It brings to mind primitive tribes bowing down in worship or the Golden Calf of Israel. It feels like a sin we left behind in the Old Testament. When we think of the big sins plaguing the church, idolatry is not one that comes up. It is just so Mount Sinai. It is a far off temptation of primitive man. Pictures from Sunday School Bibles of Canaanites bowing down before a little statue come to mind and are dismissed.
We are way too smart to bow down to inanimate objects, modern man mumbles as he stares transfixed at his iPhone. God made no mistake when He includes the sin of idolatry in the 10 Commandments. The temptation towards idolatry has been plaguing man since the beginning and it has not disappeared. If anything, the problem is getting more intense and less dealt with in our day and age.
Idolatry is simply treating someone or something with extreme reverence. It is serving someone or something as if they were God. It is spending your time, talents and life in allegiance to anything above God Himself. As a Christian, we are called to love and serve many people. Yet, this is in our service to God. Serving itself is not idolatry. We get in trouble when we take something that in itself may be good or neutral and place it first in our lives above God.
Jesus said that we cannot serve two masters. We will love one and HATE the other. We often overlook this latter part of the verse. Setting up a second master in our lives creates intense conflict. If we try to serve an idol and try to serve Jesus, one will end up being hated by us.
Idolatry at Work
We may understand idolatry when it comes in some packages. Drug or alcohol addiction are clear examples of idolatry in today’s world. Addicts spend all of their waking hours concentrating on where their next fix will come from. They are willing to lie, steal and do any manner of sin in order to serve this addiction. Their god is their drug of choice. Alcoholics are the same way with booze. Those who struggle with sex and pornography won’t let little things like marriage, adultery and the pain caused by pornography get in the way of serving their god. But what about when the idolatry is wrapped in a cloak the world esteems highly like good old American hard work? It is always good to work hard and provide for your family, right?
My Respectable Idolatry
It was three a.m. on a weekday night a few years ago. My wife came down to where I was working and asked how I was doing and how much longer I would be. She was concerned. I needed sleep and she missed me. It was a reasonable based on the fact that it was very late alone. I had also been working since I had gotten home from Court that evening. I had only taken a short break to eat breakfast and say goodnight to the kids. I was in the middle of a big trial. During these times as a litigator, everything else in life got shoved aside. I worked around the clock for a week or two in order to get the trial done. Little sleep, no family time and life consumed by my job…and I thought it was normal. My wife said it was like being a single mom. I stared at her with very weary eyes, I had been up most of the night for the previous week and with a suddenly angry heart.
“Don’t you realize this is my job and I have to do well to make partner” my mind flared into a rage.
How dare my wife care about my health and well being. How dare she think of our family when I had an idol to serve…..I mean, job to do.
Looking back now I see the ridiculousness of it. I was serious. I worked myself to the bone in order to achieve my goal. I was going to make lots of money. I would do it regardless of what wife, children, or God said about it. I was serving my ambition. I was a slave to my job and career. In truth I was knee-deep in idolatry and it was hard to see. It was hidden behind my role as father and provider. Unlike drug addiction, the idols I served was respectable. Placing a job above God is just as wrong as an addiction and equally destructive. Anything above or in place of God hurts us.
There was a recent story on a Christian radio about the founder of a large Christian relief organization. The story was supposed to be positive and encouraging. It went on in detail about how dedicated the man was to the organization. It was successful and he was in demand around the world for speaking engagements. They then casually mentioned that the man was so busy that he barely had time for his wife and daughter. This led to strained relationships never repaired before his death. The daughter was so bitter that she despised the organization. She was not even walking with the Lord to that day she was so angry. This man’s devotion to his organization and ministry destroyed his family. Does this seem like idolatry was an issue? A man served an organization and goal as a god rather than God Himself. God grows families when we serve Him, He does not destroy them. That is sin’s job.
Who’s Your Boss?
Idolatry can come in many different forms. Are you certain that you are too smart to believe in God creating the universe? Do you believe that you are too intelligent to believe the simple words of the Bible? Guess what, your god is your view of yourself as smarty pants. Do you live for Sunday when the Packers get out on the field ad put aside all else thining about it? You may have an idol problem. Do you nurse wounds from your childhood using them as a weapon to fight off any attempts at growth and freedom in Christ? You may have made an idol of your victimhood. Work, sex, amusement, politics, these are all possible idols in your life.
It is sin keeping you in a prison of your own making as you allow a created thing to take the place of the Eternal Creator.
So what about it? Who’s your boss?
God says that you should have nothing in this entire world that comes before Him or else it is wrong. Is there anything in your life that is threatening to or overtaken the place only reserved for God? There is a very simple direction if you are caught in idolatry.
Flee and glorify God. It is simple and easily done. Just do it.