Thursday, May 20, 2010

Idolatry of Self

At the Mission I work at, we often talk about “idols” in relation to them hampering our spiritual walk and growth. The Old Testament talks a lot about idolatry, but the New Testament doesn’t speak much specifically about idolatry. There is a reason for this however. As I learned yesterday, the New Testament version of “idols” or “idolatry” is the idea or concept of “lust”. While the OT speaks of idols, the NT speaks of lusts…they are, in fact, to be taken the same way.

I have been thinking a lot lately about idols/lusts. As I contemplate this, I am reminded that idolatry is anything that turns my focus or heart away from God and His Glory. Of course, this can be any number of things, but what I have found out about myself is that I have ONE really BIG idol/lust in my life. The rest is periphery to this big one. The rest of my sin, actually, flows right from this ONE idol. You might be saying: yeah right!?!? How can you have only one idol or lust??

We are quick to pin the devil, the world, demons, etc. on our failures and sinning. While there is certainly some merit and reason to think this, it likely only makes up a fraction of our sin. For instance, if Satan is bound to be one place at one time, I highly doubt he is waiting for me to wake up each morning and then follows me to work and sits in my office to tempt me. Ha! I am not that important! I am thinking he would rather spend his time with, perhaps….politicians…hehe..What I really think is that most of my sin can be contributed to good ole me…my flesh…myself…So that got me to thinking about where my idols/lusts lay. And I boiled it down to one simple, yet big, conclusion. My big idol simply put is: SELF. Every other idol or lust simply flows out of my insatiable desire to please, protect, and advance myself. I am so selfish. I am selfish with my time. my money. my gifts. my energy. my lifestyle. I could go on and on. I want total, unilateral control of my life. I may say I believe and want God’s control and will for my life..that is wonderful lip service. But one need not look to deep into my life and lifestyle to find that I am the one who really wants to drive my life and lifestyle. Then, this idol of self gives birth to many different idols. But inevitably I can always trace back a sinful action, thought, desire, etc. to the fact that I care more about myself than any other thing, including God.

Certainly getting married has helped this. Having a baby has helped. Being involved in missions has helped. But none of these things in and of themselves have been able to break me of the care and self-love I have.

In times which the Spirit has truly led me, as opposed to my flesh, I have found freedom, mercy, love, grace, and redemption from my idol of self. I try to tap into my Spirit to guide and lead my days and actions, but also understand that the battle will be lifelong and often times labor in vain.

Oh how I long to slay you, self. I long to love you, Lord, above all else. I long to love others as myself. I long to seek first your Kingdom. I long to walk humbly, to love mercy, to fear the Lord. God, save me from this perishable tent, save me, I ask of you, from mySELF.


C said...

Skipping through all the God stuff, being the good heathen that I am... I'm drawn to your use of Spirit and Self. Should these not be one and the same? Shouldn't the goal be to intertwine these two?

Heathenly speaking, your post reminds me of Carl Jung's theories around actualization of Self and the Collective Unconscious. While he truly believed the human race is bound by an ancestral bond of the unconscious - generations passing down encoded information nearly genetically to inform our futures from previous societal failures and successes- he emphasizes that this can only be truly be understood, accepted and acted upon by the individual if that person has actualized his/her Self.

In this vernacular, I would call this unconscious "Spirit," and I would go further to say, that it takes an amazingly in-touch-with-ones-Self human to be able to enmesh the two...

Maybe the sacrifice of Self that you are speaking to is really the Shadow of Self (another Jungian term)- which speaks to the yuckiness of individuality acting within an unhealthy society/community.

If that's the case, then, you should embrace the part of your Self that encompasses your values, ideals, goals, principles, tenants, love, and un-selfishness as away to more closely connect with your Spirit.

Being driven by your Spirit and empowering yourself to act according to a more innate, holistic, pure philosophy of being is a beautiful way to proceed through life. It is one that I am currently striving to achieve...

I don't believe, however, I need to sacrifice my Self in order to do this successfully. I think it is extremely important to look at the Shadowy parts of myself and abolish them, without forgetting their power, and at the same time actualizing the Self I know I can be. (Sounds like an ad for the Marines...)

This is heady stuff, and your average Joe will refuse to even consider the time involved in making it their reality - which in itself is a failure of the human condition- and a depressing one at that.

I agree, most people sit with their idolatry of Self as being the most powerful driver in their lives. And that includes all the yuck. My soon-to-be-ex-husband is sitting in this very place, and it is so disappointing to see what that is doing to his Self and more importantly his Spirit...

Heathen Epistle - over! :p (Timely post for me, though.) Thanks for reading the ramble!!

Love you~
p.s. Hi to wifey and baby J.

Ordinary Radical said...

I want to talk offline.. :). I have some thoughts about what you have written...

C said...

Cool! :) Let's discuss... hit me up an email sometime. It's been a mighty loooooooong time since you and I have had a good hearty dee-beight.

Virgin Daiquiri's for you, not so virgin ones for me! :p

Bring it~

Anonymous said...

Hey Crock,
I totally agree that the Self and Spirit should be so inter-connected, that they no longer seem separate entities. That's what the Christian life is all about - being One with God's Spirit - being controlled and transformed into His likeness. Not that our Self would become void. But that God could take each aspect of who we are, redeem it, enhance it, and make it (and us) as glorious as He is. I love the Self that I am when the Spirit uses me to reach out to my neighbor, or feed a homeless person, or care for someone I never would have if left to myself.

- Christianne (G's wife)