Thursday, June 27, 2013

Why Idols? Identity

So I'm going through Kelly Minter's No Other Gods Bible Study & a lot of it has struck a chord with me. (I knew it would!)

This week, the study is focusing on the question, "Why Idols?" (Why is it that we choose idols? Why are they appealing? Why are they so hard to resist?)

Each day has a different focus & I've been struggling, wrestling, & grappling with each day's focus to allow the Lord to speak to me & to penetrate my heart. Each topic has been really good & I'll probably end up having a word or two about each of them.

The first day's focus is on Identity. I think this is huge. Here are some key things I liked from the Bible Study. I will put the book's greatness in these brackets to keep my thoughts separate from Kelly's:

[While Kelly was doing research for this study, she would ask people why we turn to functional idols, & the most consistent response she found was: Identity.
"It seems that women everywhere are caught in an endless pursuit to discover their identity. ...finding identity can be a lifelong battle, a continuous cycle. Husbands don't seem to solve it. Kids apparently don't do it. Careers fall short..."
The Biblical example she gives here is found in 1 Samuel 8:1-22 when the Israelites wanted to have a king like other nations. Even though the Lord told them through Samuel all of the horrible things that would happen to them if they decided to have a king, they were not deterred!
"The curious part to me: The Israelites already had an identity. An amazing one at that - they were the chosen people of God! But as they began to forsake God & follow other gods, they lost sight of what they had and, most important, who they were."
(This is lagniappe, but she included this & it gave me a chuckle.)
From an episode of "The Cosby Show" -
Denise had a boyfriend over for Cliff to meet for the first time. He said he wasn't going to college b/c he was going to spend his time "finding himself." Cliff asked, "Well, how long do you think that'll take?" He said, "Five to ten years." Cliff said, "Well, you'll be able to find yourself & several other people by that time." Later Denise said, "Well? Do you like him?" Cliff said, "I don't know if that's him. He hasn't found himself yet."
The only way the Israelites were going to "find themselves" was to realize that God had already found them - & that is everything.
Deut. 7:6 says, "For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. He has chosen you to be his people, prized above all others on the face of the earth."
& in case you didn't get it the first time, Deut. 14:2 says it again!
1 Peter 2:9-12 says, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. You once were not a people, but now you are God's people. You were shown no mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners & exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul."
& we are to be foreigners: "...we will be strange & alien-like b/c our lives will stand out as so breathtakingly good in comparison with others. As a result those around us will want to glorify God."
"The extreme goodness of our lives is the peculiar part. Goodness should be setting us apart in distinctive ways. Not a goodness that comes from self-righteousness or legalism, but goodness that is the fruit of obedience."
"Fulfilling our sinful desires will snuff out this burning goodness. By indulging them we actually become the reverse of peculiar & strange. We become...normal. For those of us seeking individualism & distinctiveness, chasing our lusts will only make us like everyone else, with little identity at all."]

(My thoughts)
Christian, or not, everyone wants to have their own identity. We are all created w/ a God-shaped hole in our souls & it doesn't matter if we fill it with good things (spouses, children...) or bad things, if we're not filling it with GOD, we will continue to be unfulfilled & searching for what completes us.

I'm not responding to this to point fingers b/c "I done been convicted!" I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to my identity. I have all these grand ideas of what my life should look like & the roles I should fill & I'm ridiculously hard on myself to be who I think I should be...not who I am in Christ. (See Jax's Birthday post-My Plans & God's Plans. Yup...ya think He's workin on me?!)

The saddest part to me about this one is when this lack of identity is found in Christians. It's like when you're looking everywhere for your sunglasses & they've been on your head the whole time! (That's never happened to you? Oh...yeah, me neither.) We Christians are searching & searching, when we have the answer all along! We're looking for something that we already have. We are the Lord's!
Over the past few years I've noticed so many hungry, wandering people looking for identity. I've seen a heartbreaking trend of Mom's tearing their families apart to seek love & attention from other men, or because their life doesn't look the way they thought it would, or various other reasons. This is the way the world does things. Someone who does not have Christ must jump from high-to-high to keep their God-shaped "hole" filled. It should NOT be this way for us! We have hope! We have the answer! We have Christ!! We should be different from the world (& striving to be that way!) We shouldn't want the world's king or all that involves, because we have the KING OF KINGS.

The thing that Kelly said that the Lord has pounded into my heart is, "The only way the Israelites were going to "find themselves" was to realize that God had already found them - & that is everything." 
Y'all. We make everything so hard...& so messed up! There is no need for mid-life crises or to look ANYWHERE to find ourselves. Our true identy can only be found in the one who made us!!! If we're looking anywhere other than at Christ, we're never going to truly be fulfilled.

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