“little children, stay away from idols” – 1 John
A man walked back into our lives recently. He has always been a ‘sort of follower’ of Jesus. He goes to church every week, is devoted to his business, but never had the time to really stop and spend time exploring the Gospel or working out what it meant to follow Jesus. That is until now.
This week, Chris walked into our lives a different man. I guess lung, liver and pancreatic cancer will do that to a person. The conversation was sobering. Before us stood a man who to all intents, looked well enough. But now the conversation had urgency. Those things in his life that he had all along known he shouldn’t have had – an obsession with his business, toying with new age, excessive drinking and simply ignoring the call of Christ in his life, they are now gone. They have been replaced by a desire, in the final days, to prioritise all in life that is important. Jesus has moved into his rightful place as Lord, and we look forward to baptising him in the coming days. We also pray for healing.
In a parallel scenario, I am reading of great movements that are happening around the world, where many are seeing fruit even more than a hundredfold, but never without cost. I am convinced the Lord sent this man into my life to confront me.
You see, while some may consider me a slow learner, it has really dawned on me that it is simply impossible for the Lord to achieve great things through us, when we have a multitude of distractions in our life. The best we can hope for, is to “play” at Christianity, but we delude ourselves. God will do immeasurably more than we can imagine, when we remove all the distractions in our life that hinder the work. Distractions really, are idols. As we have switched the word ‘death’ with ‘passing’ today, so we prefer the word ‘distractions’ to ‘idols’. Idolatry sounds terrible, sinful even.
I have sadly had to face up to there being quite a few in my life. Even food has become an idol. I realise not a day goes by without me wondering what we can cook that evening. Our family living in Uganda however, don’t have such distractions. Work is simple, food even simpler and a believer’s entire energy can be devoted without hindrance to the work of the Lord. Sounds silly doesn’t it, over the top.
Make not mistake though, it is deadly and our constantly distracted lifestyle in the West prevents us from being effective servants of Christ. Most will get to the end of their lives and wonder what it was all for – that includes believers too. Friends, this world is so fleeting and we indulge ourselves by thinking we are immortal. Then one day, with a snap of the fingers our lives change.
Firstly, I don’t believe there has been another time in history when society has been so blinded to the consequences of what is coming. In Romans 3, we are told that the ‘wrath and fury’ of God is coming to individuals who are unrighteous, not covered by Jesus. Yet the world is arrogantly blind.
Secondly, Jesus is commanding his church to be far more effective. We have all the power in the universe available, but we are fat, complacent, even useless. Our King is Lord of the Universe, yet we ignore his call as if it were optional. You and I must take this seriously for everyone’s sake – those around us who are perishing, and ourselves who risk coming under the judgement of Christ. Would a solider in an army not be severely punished for slacking off on their duty? Do we expect anything less?
For goodness sake, let’s start calling our distractions what they are – idols, the thing God hates above everything in his chosen people. We must repent, and in his mercy ask him to use us.