Tuesday, June 12, 2012

You Sweet Idolater You

Coffee...ahhh...warm drink...quiet time...my time...the right time....go ahead God...I'm ready...I'll listen for a few minutes now.... 

We are idolaters. Do you believe this? Perhaps yes and perhaps no? We have often heard that we idolize money and for some this may be very true. But even above money (we’re rarely seen sitting in a corner counting gold-coins) we’ve made an idol out of that which we believe money can or will provide for us…security, independence, efficiency, health, power, prestige, acceptance, preferential-treatment, honor, approval and yes, even love. 

There is an interesting saying that I often, these days, associate with Hippies or Flower-Children but it could have simply come out of the self-help section of any bookstore for the past 40 years or so…the notion of, “I’m okay…you’re okay.” The idea that we are to, first and foremost, accept ourselves “as is” and not feel condemned by any external mores or feelings of guilt or shame…throw them off the thinking goes. Worse yet, “You must first learn to love yourself before you can love anyone else.” Do you agree with this statement? Even a little? If so you are an idolater. Welcome to the club.

 Why are these views so problematic? Firstly, any view, if it is truly your view, is not evil intentioned in and of itself. Truly it is more, simply, a reality that is…not in itself sinful per se. We have inherited many of these ideas from well meaning (although often shallow thinking) people of our times. We are a product of our environments (or products of the rejection of our environments) and this is unavoidable to a great extent. We can’t be expected to live outside or beyond our own times anymore than a gold-fish can live beyond it’s tank…it’s water is it’s reality so to speak. Though, be it probable or not, we are called to live well above and beyond our abilities…above and beyond our natural surroundings and this is frankly where things get tricky.

 “Where your treasure is there your heart will also be.” Jesus Christ said this…do you believe it? By “believe it” I mean, do you live by it? Are you concerned about this statement as it applies to your life? What is it that you treasure? If you want God to fill your heart and to dwell in His is it even possible if your heart is absent from Him and even absent from the TRUE YOU? What do I mean? When you call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to fill you, guide you, guard you…what is it that you are asking Him to be concerned about…about your desires? What do you desire? What are you worried about? What plagues your thoughts? What inspires you? What motivates you? If what you desire or are concerned with is anything or anyone OTHER THAN our Lord Himself then you can’t honestly expect Him to respond…right?  The real "you" is not what you've made but what our God desires to make of you.  Is this true?  Should God be sought on our own terms?

 The question that necessarily must be asked is, Is the Lord your treasure? If you say, “Yes” then you’ve decided to live a life that looks like your concerned about nothing other than Him and the increase of His Kingdom both in yourself and in everyone else you come in contact with on a daily basis. What would other people say that you treasure? I treasure quiet reflective time and chocolate ice-cream with almonds. If I am interrupted in “my” quiet reflective time by a request to “watch me dad” I can become irritated. If I find out that someone other than me finished off the LAST of the chocolate ice-cream with almonds I will quickly be giving a homiletic-discourse on the importance of throwing off selfishness and the importance of mortification for the Christian soul. And you’re just like me. Sorry.

 So what of it? What am I supposed to do with the fact that I generally do prize other things above God and above my sacrificial love for other people? Let our prayer be this:

 “Lord Jesus have mercy on me, sinner that I surely am. Lead me to die that I might surely live. You have given yourself to me that I might give myself to You. Help me Lord.”

 Will this do the trick? I assure you it won’t…not right away. But it is certainly a first-step in the long pilgrimage back to our intended place as sons and daughters of God.  You know this is where you want to be and if you don't I'm praying for you.  I can't change your mind or heart.  Believe it or not:  We are not meant to be sons and daughters of our age. We are meant to swim against the rising tide of self-centeredness…we are to prize the Eucharist and God’s Holy Church above and beyond our own desires. We are to place others first. We are to be heroes of this age and not victims of this age. The cultural norm, in one statement if I could be the one to define it would be: “I decide...I am mine...I decide my own truth.” No you don't.  We are to say, “Lord I am fully and completely Yours…thank You.” Let your life be a “Thank You” and not, “More, more, more!”

Be real...be authentic...be who you truly are...a son or daughter of God.  Not that false deity you've made yourself out to be.  Live for what matters while you still can.  The first step is the most difficult and that would be to take a few days and consider that which stands as an obstacle between you and God.  Finances?  Hobbies?  Sports?  Television?  Fear?  You name it and ask God to help you.  He will.