An idol is anything you add to Jesus as a requirement for being happy.
There are four common idols: Comfort, Approval, Control, and Success.
In teaching about Love, Kari and I explained each of these four as representing the false gods of our age — which then represent numerous others, for our hearts are idol factories. Our flesh is tempted by the world system most clearly in these four common ways.
Each pretend god promises good things but in the end lets us down. It’s easy to see why: we not meant to find comfort, approval, control or success apart from the loving protection and provision of our Creator. He is our Father, and He is good. We need not run to other seemingly “good” things to find satisfaction.
Real life comes into focus as we give up control to receive approval from God the Father, because of the successes of His Son Jesus, who gave up all His comforts for us and for our salvation.
What Do You Love?
Many students asked about this helpful tool, delving into the root desires, fears, and problem emotions, of each idol. Here’s a page from The Gospel Primer on the four common idols (click to enlarge image):
As you can see, this discussion on heart idols moves far beyond sin-is-bad-behavior, for even very “good” things can become destructive in our hearts when they take the place of God. Worldliness is anything that steals your full enjoyment of Father’s Love. That’s why we must say we cannot love the world (people, creation) until we stop loving the world (system). Pride, greed and foolishness have not more place in our lives. Let us not tip-toe around worldly thinking and living; let us dive deep into God’s Love.
Love: What the World Needs Now
We taught the weekend’s main sessions tag-team, side-by-side, focusing on asking and answering three key questions:
- Who loved you? (on the Father’s Love, our identity in Christ, and receiving His love)
- What do you love? (on idolatry and removing obstacles to reciprocating Father’s love)
- Who will you love? (on whole-life intercession by relaying God’s love to others)
The first two deal with our relationship with God, yet if we stop there we will only get to thinking about life through this lens: “How will this affect me?” That’s not deep enough. Jesus told the story of the (Good) Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) to lead us far beyond asking how situations affect ourselves. He desires us to capture His heart and ask: “How will this affect her? How will this affect him? How will this affect them?”
Throughout the weekend we heard leaders comment how nothing was exactly what they expected, and a refrain “this is deep.” The unpredictable weather provided a metaphor and helped us get to the end of ourselves: we cannot control outcomes. Salvation visited those shores, and many crossed the line into the Kingdom. Because Jesus loves us He does more than give us a motivation talk about our missed potential. His words are better than vague, pithy, positive sayings. He heals us by first wounding us. Only through embracing and embodying God’s Love in Jesus can we love as loved ones. That’s the kind of love the world needs now.