Aimee writes about our trying to find our identity in idols, but not in our LORD. She quotes the definition of an idol that Tim Keller uses in Counterfeit Gods: The empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the only Hope That Matters; idols are the "making of an ultimate thing out of a good thing" p. 172. She compares our idols with the gospel and writes:
By revealing the poison in my soul, the Lord humbles me and allows me to see what my own effort apart from him produces. As I come to discover more intimately how thoroughly dependent I am on his grace, the Holy Spirit actually produces fruit in the midst of the worst suffering or sin. That, my friends, is the power of the gospel; how sweet the sound! p. 175Aimee goes on to explain how getting rid of idols often includes our own hurt, anger and self-righteousness. Instead we need to experience humbling forgiveness and lose the fear that accompanies that idol.
She points out that we relish "doing for God" rather than receiving from God. So much of this I realized in Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill where I relate my own struggles to stop acting like the religious humanitarian and enjoy giving God the glory whether or not I had any glory. Like Aimee I have struggled with idols. Occupation, for example: I wanted to continue as a Director of Christian Education--making this career an "ultimate thing out of a good thing". Blogging now can also be an idol--are people reading and posting--am I being followed by others? Blogging is not the ultimate thing.
Again Aimee asks questions at the end of this chapter p. 183. The Journaling Questions are in red and my answers are in black.
- Journal about some times when you were the angriest, most devastated, or most hurt in your life. Do you recognize any idols that you may have had then? Some of those events are in my book. An idol I wrote about was niceness. When I went overboard being nice, I was hurt when others didn't reciprocate. I also had an idol of a perfect job--working on a Church staff as a Director of Christian education. Are they still there? No, those particular idols are not there, but other idols want to take their place if I am not careful.
- How can a good thing turn into an ultimate thing, and why is that had? This last week I wrestled with taking a long-term substitute job--a good thing in Special Education--that I could make an ultimate thing and then not fully be there for my husband as his caregiver.
- Do you ever find that you are serving God the way that you want to, but not necessarily the way he wants you to? Yes. Perhaps my going overboard applying The House That Cleans Itself and blogging about it. Can you think of any people in the Bible who have done this? It started with Eve who listened to the serpent. Job had his own ideas about what God was doing until he repented. David committed adultery and then tried to cover it up.
- In examining yourself after reading this chapter, as well as through prayer, what may be some idols in your life now? Perfectionism. Getting something done rather than allowing God to order my days. He may want me to interact with someone when I have other ideas. Where do you place your value, meaningfulness, and worth? There is only one place--I am His for His purposes.
- Read the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35. Is there someone you need to forgive? Yes. Because blogging on another blog is sometimes an idol for me, I think that certain people in my life should read it so they can know how to pray for my husband who has Alzheimer's. When family and special friends don't read it, I need to forgive them. Silly, sinful me! They can care about us and pray for us without my blog posts. Is there someone of whom you need to ask forgiveness? Yes, and I did that yesterday and it was so good to repent and humble myself.
- How is forgiveness supernatural? We forgive because He forgave us. Answer in detail. He gives us the power to forgive others as we examine ourselves. He also gives us the power in humility to ask for forgiveness.
- How is that we prostitute and enslave ourselves to meagerness and mediocrity? We do this when we try to live our life on our own terms. In what ways do you do that? When I am not meditating on God's Word and heeding it, I short-cut my faith.
- Are you suffering through any afflictions in your life right now (that may or may not be from idolatry)? Being a caregiver is tough. How can you glorify God in this time? By my willing obedience to the road ahead. What Scriptures may be helpful to you? My grace is sufficient for you--my strength is made perfect in your weakness. How is God's grace sufficient to you in this time? By clinging to Him and not to my abilities.
- What's the difference between being religious and being Christian? A humanitarian can be religious, but only a disciple is a Christian. LORD make me Your disciple and keep working in my life.
- What is the measurement of our sanctification? The measurement is how the LORD transforms my struggles and sin into fruit in His kingdom that I can one day lay at His feet.