Idolatry degrades God and in so doing degrades ourselves. Idolatry arises from a narrative different to the narrative of God. Idolatry suggests an alternative reality leading to a more exalted state of being. But idolatry degrades what we had and prevents us possessing what is ours. This was so at the fall and it is so when we insist on living from the old covenant when God has undone the fall and secured the triumph of the sons and daughters of God in His Son. In this age we can do better than uttering clichés like ‘God is good!’
We can praise Him by agreeing that we are the expression the trinity and living this out. This is what Jesus meant by worshiping in spirit and in truth: Living out the inheritance that is already ours.
Idolatry was forbidden in the old testament. It is even more a perversion in the new testament where Father is represented to us in Jesus and Jesus is in us through the agency of Holy Spirit. How unfortunate to dumb this reality down to the law, observances and the subtle idolatry of old covenant adherence because we prefer our own separationist/try harder notions to the new and living way of Christ as us. In this age we have the benefit of being indwelt by the trinity. We can be the expression of God’s Spirit. This is the force of Christ come in our flesh.
‘Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you’ John 6.53 NIV. We eat him be believing and declaring that Jesus is our life. When we ‘eat’ other things - like attempting to sustain ourselves by religious practices and observances - we quench this life; we suffocate the flow of unpolluted spirit and life that could have flowed into our spirits and souls had we been obedient rather than just stubborn. God has no need to represent Himself to us by images, holy days, rites and buildings and services. Firstly He is represented directly to our spirit in His Son, secondly His Son lives in you and is continually with you. Thirdly Holy Spirit represents them all directly to our spirit. When we meet with people for whom this is a life, we are participate in the Body of Christ.
BANQUET OF LIFE
But not only all of the above. The trinity lives in you. The Lord’s Table is a sign and a reminder of this reality - that in Jesus you and Father are one. Participation in this rite does not make Jesus come to you. He is already in you. The bread and the wine illustrate the fact that in the new testament age the incarnation is the big deal, the changed reality that marks the difference between the old and the new testament. There is no requirement to mediate the presence of God in this age. God is part of your being. He is in you and you are in Him.
‘On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20
What is idolatry? It is treating as God something that is not God. There are lots of gods in India. Indians are a very religious people. Idols in the west are more subtle that this. They may take the form of materialism, greed, sexual lust, ideas, religion and religious beliefs. Any Christian belief that is false doctrine is either an idol or a support of idolatry.
Idols are most subtle since they are the creation of the anti-christ. The intention is to undo Christ by having us attach to constructions that are false christs and to gospels that are no gospel at all. In Christianity idols can be any belief, practice or institution that substitutes itself for the person of Jesus Christ. With some people church is their idol. With other folks it is their celebrity pastor. With others the idol is their denomination and the identity they think they have in belonging to this community. This kind of idolatry is allied with the mystery of iniquity. Nested rationalisations can be evolved that support the fiction that deviant religion is a valid expression of the gospel of Jesus and Paul - even though it turns their gospel on its head and denies that Christ has come in the flesh.
LIFE WITHOUT LIMIT
A divine conspiracy has delivered us from death unto death, if we will have it. This same coalition has baptised us into a river of life unto life.
‘Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them’ Matt 13.12 NIV. This is why the wise person sells all he has, takes every atom of Himself and his identity to the cross and takes up the every multiplying life of Jesus as His own.
DON’T FEAR TRUTH
The pursuit of truth is an investment that cannot lead to loss, no matter what the initial sacrifices may be. The adventure of life is to explore ever new realms of expanding truth. If life is seen as an adventure and Christ is seen as life itself one need never fear truth. One can embrace the opportunity of breaking through the jungle growth of error and making one’s way out into the clear air of ever unfolding truth. Truth being an aspect of God is infinite. Grace exists so that we have the opportunity to exchange error for truth and be ever learning about the excellence of God and the potential of ourselves.
CHALLENG OF LIFE
Should we have committed ourselves to follow Jesus where ever He should lead we need not fear if it ever should emerge that most of what we have believed all our lives is poppy-cock and humbug. Hopefully we will be relieved because it will mean new expressions of life and spirit for us and those we touch. There is nothing more frustrating than working with colleagues who have accommodated themselves to mind-numbing and spirit deadening notions on behalf of God. They live in this spirit-deadening cocoon innocently touching others with their fingers of death. Nevertheless there is great advantage to be had in taking the road less travelled. Charles Ringma writes,
“This is the struggle to hear what we may not wish to hear. It is a groping toward an openness that may cause our life to be turned around. Yet hear new things we must! For we cannot simply continue to plunge headlong into the incessant round of activities that are no longer a part of God's direction for our lives and that no longer express our creativity and our central concerns.”
An egregious habituation to what is not God’s direction is the limpet like attachment to the law and old covenant. Not only is this dismissive of what Father has done for us at the cross. It denies His new and living way of constant union with Himself. The result being that no matter how much we may talk Holy Spirit and doing what Jesus is doing - we need to make a start at aligning ourselves with what He has already done.
Charles Ringma. Dare to Journey--with Henri Nouwen (Designed for Influence) (Kindle Locations 87-89). Kindle Edition.