Monday, April 4, 2011

On Daydreams and Freaking Out

In preparation for Easter, our high school Sunday School class is purging -- the closet and our hearts. To help us see what needs to be purged, I am teaching a series on idolatry.

Growing up in Malaysia where Buddhism is a common religion, idols are ubiquitous in all forms and sizes. As a child, I remember being afraid whenever I saw distorted images of gods who reside on red altars. I did not realize at the time that idols reside best not behind incense and offerings, but on the altar of human hearts. My heart.

Violation of any commandment is always a violation of the first commandment: "I am Yahweh your God... You shall have no other gods before me."

When I am impatient, when I am unkind, or jealous, or proud, or selfish, I am worshiping something else; I am serving something else other than God. Something else has become more precious, more desirable than my Creator and Redeemer. Something else has absorb my heart and imagination. Unless I can say that I perfectly love Christ and I perfectly love others, I am idolatrous.

And I am.

Therefore, the question is not whether I have idols in my heart, but what are the idols, and the idols-in-making, of my heart?

To help us see the idols, with the hope of purging them, I asked the youth (and myself) a list of questions:

1. What are your daydreams? What fills your imagination? When you allow your mind to wander -- in the bus or on the highway or when you are doing the dishes, where do you go?

2. What are your hopes? What do you think would fulfill you? What is the next big thing that must happen to make you happy?

3. What gives you a sense of control, a sense of confidence, as you stride down the street? What gives you a sense of safety? What gives you a sense of identity?

4. What are your nightmares? What are your fears? What is the worst that can happen?

5. For whom or what do you make sacrifices? Looking at your expenses, where do you spend the most money?

6. What do you think would gain approval, recognition, and acceptance from people? What would give you success?

7. What do you freak out about? What are your strongest, most painful, uncontrollable emotions (guilt, anger, fear, etc.) and what is causing them?

{gathered and rephrased from different sources,

Many of the answers are not necessarily evil. Some are likely very useful -- like education and jobs and homes and caffeine. However, we must treat them for what they are -- utensils. Some may even be rightly ours to keep -- family, parents, husband, wife, children. But none of these are to rise above God -- the one and only who is worthy of worship.


E! said...

the picture is fitting, for all seven questions. all my efforts to resist, abstain, and let go are not enough to free my heart. christ did not just give up talking or starbucks or chocolate or redmeat for me.

okay blankie, to the icy river you go.

What has stripped the seeming beauty from the idols of this earth? Not a sense of right or duty, but the sight of peerless worth... the beaming of His beauty, the unveiling of His heart...

What have we to do with idols
Who have companied with Him?

Natalie said...

Once again, your blog challenges and blesses me, as it always does. I'm realizing the very things I count as my biggest blessings (my darling husband, my baby, our loving families, our warm home, etc) can easily change into idols if I am not DAILY giving them back to the one they truly belong to. UGG! It is hard not to make idols out of "bad" things, but it is even HARDER to avoid making "good" things into your idol! Thanks for sharing this Irene!

Seda said...

Dear Esther and Natalie,

As I spend more time thinking about this and observing my own heart, I have come to realize that most of the time, it is not the object themselves that are my idols. Rather, I am my own idol and I am doing these things to satisfy and bring glory to ME.

I may be deceived in thinking that "my family" or "my children" etc are so important to me, but my sacrifices for them is really for MY need for control, MY need for comfort. In other words, the objects are merely the surface idols, but ugly truth is that most of the time, I want to be my own god.

This is why, I think, Christ calls us to die to ourselves.