If something does not draw me closer to God, it brings me further away from him. There is no standing still. Everything is an action. If I have felt a distance from God in the weeks since Easter it is because I took an action to turn my eyes away from him. I don’t want to be so simplistic to say that giving certain things up for Lent was my way of drawing near to God, but, while it did afford me plenty of time to instead meditate on God, what have I done with my free time since then?
I have spent hours poring over my music and looking for new artists, I have spent hours watching movies and reading books that are unhealthy for me, I have spent hours worrying about my health and human relationships, I have spent hours watching stupid videos online and hovering around pointless websites, I have spent hours sleeping while dishes lay dirty in the sink and laundry collects in a heap on my floor. These are all active choices, and why don’t I call them what they are: they are idols (at least for me in my context). And I am an idol worshiper.
This is no revelation. I’ve always suspected music was an idol of mine, which is why it felt good to give it up on the times that I have. I probably should have suspected all of those other things were idols too, and while there are plenty of things in the human experience which I don’t idolize (fashion, television, celebrity, intellectualism, material accumulation – generally) a single, tiny idol is one giant idol too many. This morning I was reading in First Samuel the story that takes place right before the Israelites demand a king for themselves, where they are being afflicted by the Philistines and Samuel offers a sacrifice to the Lord to bring deliverance. Right before he makes the sacrifice, Samuel says to the Israelites: “If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” It couldn’t be clearer. I need to get rid of these idols. Everything eternal depends on it.
Yes, yes, just when I was starting to sound fun again I go and ruin it by writing a post like this one. But let me clarify something (I feel like I clarify this a lot). I don’t think there is anything wrong with music or movies or comics or romance or naps, and I don’t think God is expecting me to cut those things out of my life completely. But they need to be rightly ordered. I’ve gone through extreme phases where I thought entertainment in any form was inherently evil, but I’m certain now that it’s not. We are meant to have some fun in this life. Music and film and all of those things can bring glory to God, and often does! But it can also suck me of my devotion. It comes back to the matter of focus, I think, and it comes back to the line I opened with: If something does not draw me closer to God, it brings me further away from him. It’s about time I reordered a few things.