Idolatry is looking for life outside of or in addition to the person of Christ. While the first phrase expresses an obvious idolatry, a blatant seeking for life away from Christ, the second phrase expresses a subtle and thereby more insidious mode of idolatry. The first refuses Christ, the second insults and belittles him by tacking onto Him.
The second, the looking for life in addition to Christ, catches us off guard. We don’t wake up in the morning intentionally thinking, “Today I just need a spoonful of the security and intimacy that comes through close friends,” or “I will be able to rest when I hear back from that job recruiter.” However, sin is a slick substance that slides easily and often imperceptibly into the smallest cracks in our thinking, being and doing.
Before we realize it, our hope, joy and peace are resting on a precarious pyramid of Jesus and statements: Jesus and intimacy, Jesus and a vacation, Jesus and job security, Jesus and obedient, silent children or a myriad of other combinations.
I often do not realize my heart is operating on the Jesus and level of idolatry until the needle on my internal irritability gauge starts spinning out of control and my joy and peace tank are running on fumes. When the engine stops and my soul is stranded, the Spirit forces me to take assessment of the internal and unseen workings of my soul. Usually, somewhere at the bottom of the mess is a sneaky, subtle Jesus and statement.
This week, as my soul putted and puffed to a stop to meet with God, He was quick to show me that I had been trying to find identity, hope and security in my writing. I had been, inadvertently looking for life in Jesus and success (or lack thereof) as a writer.
In so doing, my soul was essentially saying to Christ, “You are amazing, but I just need a modicum of success to make me feel substantial.”
Thankfully, Christ is infinitely patient and gracious. What His light reveals, His love quickly covers. When our Jesus and statements have been noticed and named, He brings us joyfully back into the freedom of Jesus alone.
He led me to Psalm 27, where David boldly pens an entire Jesus alone poem.
The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? (verse 1).
David then proceeds to do the opposite of what my heart had been subtly doing all week. Rather than looking at his life with Jesus and tacking things on to it, David begins looking at his life and taking things away. He goes through a series of Even if statements, proclaiming Christ’s sufficiency apart from all the creature comforts our souls crave.
Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise against me, yet I will be confident (verse 3).
For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock (verse 5).
For my father and mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in (verse 10).
David, rather than tacking security or intimacy or ease onto his life with God, essentially says, “Even if all of these are removed, God would be enough. He alone is my sufficiency.”
He is able to say these bold statement with confidence because his heart is leaning upon and drawing life from Jesus alone, as seen in verses 4 and 8.
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple…You said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
When our hearts are looking for life in Jesus and, we are looking for Jesus’ hand. We have slipped into craving the gifts more than the giver Himself.
When our hearts are looking for life in Jesus alone, we are seeking His face and His presence, centering our hearts on the Giver rather than around gifts that may come and go.
May God graciously point out our Jesus ands and replace them regularly with Jesus alone, for His glory and our good.