My friend Rob Wegner posted a video and some interesting questions on his blog this morning. This is my response to his questions. You can find his blog here.
What are our idols? As a church community, and as members of the western world, where do our loyalties lie? Why do we do what we do? Where are we going? What is it that fires us up? What will make us angry, if challenged?
I believe that if we remove the scales from our eyes and really take an honest look at ourselves and at the society we’ve built that the answers became blatantly obvious. We idolize comfort. Security. A safe harbor and unrockable boat. And not only actual security and comfort but even the image of security and comfort. We want our neighbors, next door and across the ocean, to see how comfortable and secure we are. When that image or lifestyle is challenged, it is like a hornets nest being stirred up. We will give anything, including our lives, in the pursuit of the image of comfort.
It is easy to see if we just look. Middle class Americans drowning in debt, urban youth killing each other, radical surgery to get that perfect body, billions spent every year on the trendiest and newest things. I could go on and on, all in an attempt to be comfortable or at least give off the perception that we are comfortable.
Pain and suffering are universal. Gather a group of people from any city or neighborhood in America, and you’ll find abuse, divorce, neglect. It’s everywhere, and yet for the most part all we see are smiling faces. In fact, on the rare occasion that we might see someone in tears, or hear of abuse within our sphere of interaction, we are shocked! “What? I never imagined that could have happened here”, we say, as if our comfortable little island of security was immune from such a thing. It is a lie we have built up around us to shield ourselves from the reality that life is painful and difficult, not secure and comfortable. As for the middle class, when that reality becomes too obvious, when all is not well outside our windows (idols are threatened), we run. We head for the safety and whitewashed lifestyle of suburbia, where all the ugliness is neatly hid behind manicured lawns and white picket fences. It’s not gone, far from it, just hidden away neatly enough that our image (idol) is secure.
Jesus challenged us to be real. He challenged our “whitewashed tombs” and “dirty cups”. He challenged us, knowing full well the world of sin and destruction that we live in, to follow him. His ministry is a constant challenge to us all. How do we interact with others, where and on what do we spend our money, what truly motivates us? He questions our reality in search of our true selves, our very core. He is not easy. He is not safe. He knows our inclinations, he wants to bash them to bits and replace them with his. He craves relationship for that very reason, to get inside and wreck us. The closer we get to him, the more visible our idols become. And in turn, the more dangerous Jesus becomes to them.
When Jesus ascended into heaven he left us here to continue his ministry. He left his church here as his hands and feet. To carry on his challenges, to move closer to his people in relationship, to be dangerous to our idols. He left us equipped with the Holy Spirit, equipped for the same battle that he continuously fought.
Is this what we are doing? Or have we neutered ourselves at the throne of our idols?
We are afraid to challenge the status quo. We like all the smiling faces. We fear confrontation. We do not want to get dirty. We bow at the feet of our idols of safety, comfort, and their images. We rebel against the one true God, afraid to give up what we have worked so hard for (our idols), in exchange for what he gives for free.
Is our church dangerous? Is your church challenging? Is the church just another “safe” and “comfortable” place.