Friday, March 13, 2009

Idol Talk

I had the opportunity to go to the men's big12 basketball tournament yesterday, and so I had to act on it. I am a huge fan of college basketball, especially OSU. Kinda is akward at first, remembering how to cheer your guts out for your team after you are out of school. I used to go nuts at home games while in Stillwater, yelling 'til my voice was gone.

As I was sitting there, God decided that He would speak to me about what was going on around me, whether I wanted Him to or not. So, in the middle of a very heated and intense bedlam game, I made some observations: when my team did good, myself and our fans errupted with cheers and excitement; when things went wrong, we release resounding sighs and express our openly display our dissappointment. When we thought that our team was being treated unfairly, we let loose our boo's, disgust, and choicest words; when the other team made a mistake or was penalized, we cheered in the face of our opponents' fans. Pretty typical of every sporting event that I have ever been to, unfortuneatly.

Why do we do this?People love their schools, their teams, their players. Why? Because they are a source of pride to their fans when their team does well, and a source of shame when they dissapoint us. They represent our honor, our prestige, our pride, us. If they do well, we do well. If they do poorly, our pride suffers.

Still trying to enjoy a very exciting game, I suddenly was evauluating myself, trying to determine why i was so ticked off that the ref made a horrible call against my team, and why I was soo stinkin happy when they responded with a huge answer bucket. I'll let you ponder these questions for yourself, to try to determine why you do what you do, and ask God if He approves - that is between you and him. But for me, I discovered that I was responding to the game in this way because the team on the floor and the name on their jersey represented my pride, and was nothing short of an idol.

My conviction during a Thursday night baskeball game was not about being a fan of a team or a sport. It was an awareness that there are idols in my life, things that are taking God's place as the number 1 ranking in my life. It is a warning sign to me when my mood and emotions are affected by the outcome of a game - win or loose - or any other event or happening in my life. It is an indicator of what is apparently more important to me. Am I more excited about Jesus changing someone's life or my team winning? Do I get more dissapointed and bothered when a loved one is far from God, or that my team looses?

"Awe come on! lighten up man! It's sports! It's just a game! Besides, everybody knows that idols are made of gold and wood, from the bible stories, not basketball teams or schools - don't be so legalistic!" Sound like what you are thinking? Maybe your right. But if God convicted you of this, would you listen? Or would you justify why it is no big deal, that you're not as big of a fanatic as the other guy?

After dealing with the awareness of this sobering insight, I thought that was the end of God's pruning, at least for one night. Then he smacked me in the face with the next blow. My idols are not confined to athletic events. I have some at work, too. You see, I get really pumped up when I seal a deal on a contract that I was trying to land, or when I'm able to solve some glaring problem on a project. Why? Because it makes me look good to my boss, my peers, and upper management. I want to win, I want to do well, I want to succeed because I worship myself.

It's no wonder that God forbids idolatry, for to worship anything else other than the one true God, is truely a counterfit that leaves us with absolutely nothing in the end. It's the counterfiets that deceive us. They are true-ish beliefs that the world has sold us on. And we bite on that bait, almost every time, often without even knowing it. Proverbs 14:12 says: "there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death."

What counterfits, what idols, what lies have you bought into (in the past or currently)? What are the warning signs that you use to identify if something is an idol in your life?
Too important of an issue for us to not answer these kinds of questions. What say you?

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