A new type of idol.
This topic is about making an idol out of the act of destroying our idols. Seems confusing? Please bear with me a little longer. I really couldn’t find any other way to explain it than to say it like that.
There is a new idol among pilgrims and it’s as if we keep passing this statue from one person to another. So, I felt that it’s high time we unveiled this new idol.
So let me try and break it down this way. Is it possible that in our bid to destroy idols that we hold dear, we end up worshipping our effort? Like, o! I’m doing this; I’m destroying my idols, I’m destroying the idols of…(You can fill in space), is it possible to start to worship our own exertions? If there are certain things that have become an idol in my life as a Christian, and then I decide to get rid of them in through prayers and discipline, but now it becomes glaring that I have started to make an idol out of the fact that ‘I die daily’.
According to the book of Luke 18:10, two men went into the temple to pray. A Pharisee and a sinner. But the Pharisee couldn’t shut up about his good works. How he fasts and gives alms while the sinner kept telling God of how undeserving he was. The sinner was justified. Now, here is the point, the Pharisees in the days of Jesus made boast of their good works, but now, children of God are doing something similar. We are making a boast of the things we destroy. Making boast of how we don’t wear such clothings and how we do not go to certain places.
Is it wrong to crucify the flesh or destroy idols in our lives?
Absolutely Not. I read the story of a woman who had a conviction about Christian dressing and modesty. And so, she decided to make a change in her lifestyle. As expected, matured believers around her were glad.
However, after a while she reverted back to her old ways and a concerned elderly Christian lady went ahead to enquire about the new change. The answer she gave was both surprising and true.
She answered that she realised that she had started to make an idol out of the conviction she had.
She was afraid that she was beginning to idolise how she was destroying her idol and that she might have turned modesty into a new idol.
Truthfully, she had a good observation, but the important question should be that “is going back to the old way the solution to this new idol?”
What is this new idol all about?
It’s about making an elaborate show of the destruction of the work of the flesh in our life. A consuming ego in our good works of the destruction of bad works. It is an absorbing self-pride in our separation from the world. An intoxicating gratification. Is it possible for me to start to worship my good works?
Yes, I think it is possible. It is one of those things that as a child of God, we have to take note of. Remember someone like Bro Paul, while he was still Saul of Tarsus, he would boast and say “o! I’m of the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised on the eight-day, this and that” This is the hallmark of the Pharisees. They decide to idolise the good work they’ve been doing.
But after his conversion, the tune changed. He will say, “I am what I am by the grace of God” “I am forgetting those things I have done and pressed forward toward the mark” “Not that I have attained…”
The Pharisees will praise their good works But then is it possible that we also idolising the evil works that we are destroying, the works of the flesh?
This is the new idol.
Idolising our modesty in dressing and adornment and conduct. Strange but true. Aside from affecting our good standing before God, unbelievers start to get an aura of pride and self-sufficiency from us instead of the ambience of grace.
The way forward from the new idol?
Now, this is the bottom line of the whole issue. We won’t abandon the continuous destruction of idols because we want to avoid acquiring a new idol, but we will always put ourselves in remembrace that by grace are we saved, not of works lest any man should boast (Ephesian2:8-9)
For we have our treasure in an earthen vessel lest at any time we should boast.
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Except the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain that built it. Except the Lord watches over the city, they that watchet watches in vain. That thin line is for you to recognise that it is not of you, but it is he that liveth in you that helping you you to do all those things.
The Boundary of Grace
The imminent question now is, how do we stay in the confines of righteousness without necessarily turning our progress into a new idol?
The answer is in our continuous recognition of the hand of grace at work in our life. Daily crucifixion will be impossible if God is not working in you and through you.
Going back to the old way is not an option to consider… two wrongs will not make a right as we all know.
Our fear of a new idol should not drive us back to the worship of the idols.
Reverting back to the old way to start doing the same things we once condemned is not the solution to this new idol of pride in piety.
Knowing that our self-righteousness is not enough to save us should not hinder us from living a life of living sacrifice to God.
The antidote to the acquisition of this new idol is to acknowledge it’s existence and ask for grace so that we never boast in our effort nor ever strife in our power.
A righteous life in simplicity
Whenever you want to make a boast or realise that you’re subtly turning a good/righteous act into an idol, quickly go back on your bended knees and say “oh God, I’m doing the right thing but it’s as if I’m taking the glory; it’s as if I’m idolising the good thing I’m doing; it appears as if I’m idolising the destruction of my idols.”
Let us take heed unto ourselves as pilgrims and not get carried away. We are at the end of times. Anything that will so easily beset us, let us take it away. Let us watch our lives, let us watch our talks, let us watch the condition of our heart. Are we idolising the destruction of our idols? Without Christ, we are nothing. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without Christ.
Let us embrace the simplicity that is in Christ. Simplicity in righteousness and proclamation of the gospel of peace.