Wednesday, January 25, 2012

from A Word of Grace for Your Monday-1/16/12

by Kent A. Hansen

“The popular concept of ‘idolatry’ conjures up thoughts of sybaritic pagans dancing around wood and stone effigies in the woods. In truth, an idol is anything that takes our affections and worship from God. Most hard-working, virtuous people can't conceive of themselves as idolaters, but even work and virtue can become idols if our focus is on our performance rather than on God's grace.

“This can get really tough when our idol is something good like home and family.  The most criticism that I ever received for these messages is for one I wrote many years ago on the idolatry of family. My point was summarized, perhaps too tersely by the statement, ‘We aren't called to focus on the family. We are called to worship God and trust our families and their values to him in obedience.’

“You would have thought that I had blasphemed Jesus on the Cross, which really proved my point that the family can be an idolatrous substitute for God. Many of those writing critical comments turned out to be the children of pastors who had ignored and neglected their spouses and children on the pretext that they were doing the Lord's business. Their emails revealed a lot of pain and anger toward God and their fathers who they kind of had all mixed together, again proving my point.

“My response to them was, ‘If your dad found the temptations of pulpit, the flattery of church members, and addressing other people's problems more alluring than being home, changing diapers, washing dishes, doing yard work, playing games, and talking with your mom and you, that's not God's fault. That's your dad's idolatry. I am writing about those who worship a rigid, formulaic image of family rather than the God who blesses us with family and the grace to live within and outside of family. Until you forgive your dad and move on with God, you are perversely making an idol of your dad, expecting him to give what only God can give you.’”

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