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Idolatry and Grace

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This column is called “Faith Walk.” I take this literally. Trish really never knows where in my walk I am going to be when she emails me and writes, “You’re up this issue.” I pick it up right where I am with what God is currently teaching me and that becomes the subject of my column. So, here it is: Idolatry & Grace.

 Idolatry sounds like an old word because it is old. Thousands of years old. It is the worship of false gods; that is, any god except YHWH, or Yaweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob of the Hebrews. That certainly narrows the field.

So, what qualifies as Idolatry? It is the excessive love or admiration shown something or someone apart from God. It certainly happened in ancient times and the Bible is particularly full of it, with stories written about various civilizations who practiced everything from burning live children in the fires of the gods Molech and Chemesh, worship of the dead as in ancient Egypt, worship of the Greek Pantheon of gods, the lively dances around ashterah poles (shaped like... well, you can guess on that one) to the human sacrifice practiced widely in this hemisphere. It is fairly easy to determine if a false god is involved: the worship will always involve human death and/or destruction on some level—if not physical, certainly social. Always.

Many years ago Bob Dylan recorded a song, “Gotta Serve Somebody.” Good song, full of truth, and probably ignored by most of the listening audience when it came to the part where he sang “... it may be the devil or it may be the Lord but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” He was, of course, correct.

How, then, does a person figure out just who, or what, they are serving at any given time? For that matter, why would anyone care to figure it out? Because service is relentless—It is wherever our heart is, according to the Bible. The subject is important because one way or another service always gets paid for in the end.

Matthew 6:19-21:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

In this passage Jesus is pressing the issue of the heart. What is it set on? Where does it spend most of its meditation time? What are the plans and dreams of the heart? Simply put, what is your heart investing in? If the heart is constantly dreaming of money, then money is god. If the heart is constantly dreaming of self and ambition, then self is god. Maybe for some their deepest desire is to see the restoration of nature. Then, to them, nature is god. And for some, sadly, their days are filled with anger and violence which manifests itself in all manner of ways and places. For them, the god they serve is truly a bitter one. But if one meditates on God, then God is God.

God has been talking to me about this subject because for the Christ Follower there is no better gauge of the heart’s condition than what it spends its time thinking and thus acting on. It goes hand in hand. What do I think about? What do I do? God is reminding me of the fact that meditation and action match. This connection of thought and action is nearly impossible to hide from people, and absolutely impossible to hide from God. And if I say I belong to God, He will take steps to make certain of it. He is always dealing with the hearts of His children. He is a good Father.

We are going to celebrate one of the most popular holidays around the world this weekend. Culture calls it Easter but I prefer Resurrection Day. It is the day Christ Followers celebrate the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Messiah of the Hebrews. (It is important to note here that not all Jews believe Christ to have been the Messiah they still await.)

We celebrate this event because when Jesus came to live among us He came for the express purpose of teaching us how to live and love, and then to die on the cross as payment for the debt of sin (separation from God because of disobedience) we all carry in our members. Sin is present. It is in us and all around us. We need to be washed from it and only the Blood of Jesus can do that. This is why Christ Followers worship only Him. His salvation brings life, not more death. It brings peace, not fighting. It brings help to the poor and those in need. It begets life. Because it is free to anyone who believes, this is Grace. It can be given but cannot be bought. It can be accepted or rejected and many do reject it

Idolatry & Grace. We all live in the shadow of both and we all have the eternally binding opportunity to choose one or the other. Choosing not to choose is not an option. Sin will be dealt with one way or another based on where our hearts are. Choose life. Choose grace.

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Kathy Osborne Kathy Osborne is the editor of the Co Op Country Store's newspaper, the Co Op Round-Up. In her spare time she checks in on her three grown children, or listens to her husband play music.

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