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Just a Little Idolatry March 5, 2006

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

Lent is here. Today marks day five without a carbonated beverage. No big deal, really. My wife has been telling me of the negative health effects of soda, but I already know them. No more information needed. But I decided to give Lent a try and give up one of the things I do not need, yet access daily – Diet Dr. Pepper (and all other carbonated beverages).

I don’t know much about Lent as it has always been a weird Catholic thing. So, what I know is that I am giving up something as a symbol of reflection and repentance. I didn’t think it would be all that big a deal.

At the same time I am reading the new Brian McLaren book, The Secret Message of Jesus. I will have a full review later this week when I am finished with it, but it has been challenging my assumptions. I thought that McLaren had already challenged me all he could, but I was wrong.

Third, at my church we are working on series on the book of James. Good preaching.

The confluence of events seems to be challenging me greatly. I feel like I am getting into a rut, a bad rut, that is powerful, yet almost undetected. It’s not that anything bad is happening, but the lack of badness does not necessarily mean goodness. I find myself being humbled by the fact that I cannot just grab a bubbly caffeine fix whenever, and now I have to figure out what to do instead. I find myself eating more – and now that I realize this fact, I must confront that little idol as well.

What is it inside me that wants that fix? Strange as it may sound, for me it has almost become a brazen expression of power, like a boiterous oil tycoon buying a Hummer with cash. What’s worse is that I find that when I exert my force, it is for my perpetual comfort. I can get off appearing humble because of the apparent small scope of my selfishness – so apparently small that I never get called on it.

And yet what’s the difference? Certainly we are to enjoy every good thing God provides, but we are not merely to enjoy these things. If enjoyment is the end of the story, then the story sucks. No one is capable of being perpetually self-indulged and happy. The effect wears off eventually. I should learn that this is true every single time, but I keep getting back into that same old rut. I tend to think that since this or that was exciting or thrilling or fun that it will be forever, and it never is. So rather than learn a lesson of the short-lived nature of pleasure, I seek out another pleasure and run that one into the ground, only at higher velocity.

So this Lent season I am learning about the impact the absense of one little idol has on my life. The fact that I don’t know that to do with myself, even if it’s for even one minute or two, because of not drinking carbonated beverages is reason to believe that the accumulated effect of all of my little idolatries defines too much of my life. What if I identified all of them and gave them all up? Then what? How many minutes a day would I not know what to do with myself?

The Kingdom of God is about freedom. I am not free. I choose to submit to the littlest of idols, just a little bit, just enough not to be busted – “at least I’m not…” You know what I mean. Just enough to kill me slow enough that I think that feeling is normal. Just enough to neuter me – there is activity, but where is that which brings life?

With my upbringing, struggles such as these would bring up doubt of salvation. Thankfully I have no such doubts. Hell does not loom over my head. But what I need to learn is that it is more than about just getting in. In fact, the Kingdom of God is not about getting in, it is about sharing the goodness of God right now! The reward, if that is how you need to think about it, is not the point. Success is in the doing right now. Very few people who run marathons run to win – they run to run.

Since I am guaranteed a prize, I should live like one who has no worries, no fears, no obsessions. I should be confident to walk right into someone else’s pain knowing that pain might get on me, but also knowing that person is better off that I was in their life. Sadly, I am more confident in my ability to get comfy cozy in my life that no one dares confront.

My prayer today: God of spring daffoldils and tornadoes, God of Northen Lights and lightning, God of patience and passion, Father, Friend, Hope of all nations, I’ve got something to say. I live in a place and time where there is a powerful systemic gravity at work which flows in such a strong current such to lead me toward taking everything you give and constructing into something for my comfort. I’ve known the current was there for a long time, but I am only now beginning to see how deep it runs.

I don’t know how to get out of it. Everytime I think I’ve reached the surface, I find I’m still 20 feet down. I’m drowning in it. Everyone I know is drowning with me.

I am learning more and more about the life of Jesus and see more and more that he is relevant right now. I see how he opposed oppressive power and used his power to lift people. Teach me that way. Give me opportunity to try. Give me sense enough to know when you are giving me those opportunities. Forgive me for being so dulled and numbed by the very gifts you meant for me to give away and not consume.

I want my children to speak of me as giving and sacrifical, but not in the indulgent way of so many parents today. Help me find a way before my children are too old to learn it from me.

So, what do you think? Can you help me?



1. Paul - March 5, 2006

Live and learn. You are on the journey!

2. Angie - March 5, 2006

With a furrowed brow… I’m looking for words to let you know how much that meant to me. It was so spot on that I almost couldn’t hear it… Honestly, I got the urge to stop reading it and go to the kitchen for a diet Dr. Pepper.

I feel those words and the power of what you’re saying, so it’s not an easy read. These little things… they’re just SO BIG, aren’t they?

No answers here… just to say you’re not alone. This is what I get when I ask God to teach me? I wished for more grandeur, but it’s through this that He reaches me.


3. Justin - March 5, 2006

how is it that everyone is getting advanced copies of the secret message of jesus. i want one.


4. TCS - March 6, 2006

I told you a long time ago the Dr. was evil. You can drop him. Really.

As for the Kingdom, it really is at hand isn’t it.

Great post my brother.

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