“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” – GENESIS 12:1-3
Idolatry – I know at times it is easy to feel as if we do not have much in the way of idolatry today. After all everything seems to be ok we are told, “you do you!”
Sure, we have temptations. We have things we enjoy and like. We have our preferences. But Idols? I think not.
I want to challenge you with the definition of an idol. An idol is when something or someone becomes more important to us than God. Using this definition, I am convicted that there are many things that can fill this definition in our lives. Our identity might be one of the biggest idols in our world today. Instead of finding our identity in Christ and who God has made us to be, we seek to create our own identity, or root them in other things.
When I worked in New York City nothing meant more than your title. One of the first questions people would ask you when they met you was, “what is your title?” It always bugged me because the way you answered that question seemed to become your identity. It seemed to determine whether you were a person of value or not. As a result, I began to get caught up in this way of valuing people. I was so focused on my tile that it was all that seemed to matter. I remember negotiating a job offer — not for money — for a specific title so that would have me seen as having more value (or so I thought). I even resigned from a job because the title was not what I wanted it to be. I now realize how crazy that was! I was an idolater – I idolized my title and identity. And I had put all of it above God.
Many of us are caught in the same trap. Whether it’s our social media following, our position at work, our abilities/skills, the achievements we are after, our sexuality, or even our gender — we have our identity wrapped up in the wrong things. It’s clear to see — simply question where one has placed their identity and you will be met with spirited pushback. But the reality is our identities, or the places where we have rooted them in, have become idols.
In this week’s scripture, Abram was caught up in idolatry of his time and God chose him and called him out of idolatry. This was not because Abram deserved or merited God’s favor. It is simply so God could demonstrate His love and mercy by calling Abram out of idolatry and setting him on a course apart from the world and its pagan beliefs. God gave Abram a promise of His grace even when he did not deserve it, and gave him a new name – Abraham – as He called Him forward to multiply the kingdom.
God does the same for you and me. As a descendent of Abraham, Paul calls us the offspring of Abraham in Galatians 3:29:
“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” We have been given this promise and grace through Jesus. It is by His power that He calls us out of the influences of this world. Influences that want us to forget the identity we have been given in Christ. Influences that want us to question our identity and create an identity for ourselves. We have been given the greatest identity anyone could ask for, a child of God. Therefore, secure in our identity as His children, we seek be a blessing to this nation, this state, and this community.
You are blessed by God to be a blessing to others He places in your path, for His glory and not your own. As you go forward, consider who is around you (neighbors, coworkers, people you encounter) – seek God for the ways He intends to use you to bless the lives of others, and follow His direction for where His love can be shown.
As you reflect on this scripture and ideas this week, consider these questions:
1. Where do you place your value or identity? Why?
2. What currently is the idol of your life? What steps do you need to take to change that?
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