If you asked high school or college me what a major idol of my heart was, I would have been quick to say the approval of others. I soothed, recharged and lived off high of being someone people liked and wanted, never rocking the boat, always living a little timid.
After years of Holy Spirit pruning and repentance, freedom has grown where there was once bondage.
If you asked me now about the idol I battle daily, it would be comfort.
In studying the Lord’s Prayer with our small group, the Lord convicted me through a comment my husband made as we looked at ‘hallowed be Your name.’
“He is a holy and set apart God, He deserves set apart time.“
If I’m not vigilant, my relationship with the Lord can become only a part of life and not everything to me. Like I’ve written about before, God is both holy and gracious, almighty and loving. The gift of His Spirit is one of my favorite things about the Christian faith. The reality of His moment-by-moment companionship is something I treasure deeply. He is my Father but He is also my Lord, and as such He deserves my adoration and my allegiance.
Here is how comfort as idolatry can manifest in my life:
- When I’m anxious or tired, I turn to Netflix because in the moment it takes less effort than talking with, listening to or being still with God in prayer or rest.
- When I’m uncertain or stressed, I turn first to social media because in the moment it is a way out instead of a way through that reading my Bible could be.
- When I’m overwhelmed or frustrated, I turn to food because in the moment it seems to cheer more than unloading to a trusted friend or exercising.
- When I’m bummed or discontent, I turn to online shopping because in the moment something new sounds more exciting than something familiar (God’s Presence).
I’m certainly not proud of it, but it’s a real battle. It’s a daily fight against the easy access to things that help me avoid discomfort, boredom, hurt or weakness.
To borrow a friend’s phrasing, it’s running from things that steal my affection for and connection with Jesus, and it’s a running toward things that cultivate my hunger for Him.
I am by no means saying any of the above things are wrong or harmful in a healthy context. But when a day feels draining and I need fuel, I’m tempted to refill at these stations first, and ultimately they offer meager portions. Comfort given by the world is vastly different than comfort given by God. His very presence alone is comforting and satisfying to us even if life feels chaotic or dry.
From my own experience, I believe an idol is anything we turn toward to feel peace that isn’t God. I read once that your religion is what you do with your solitude. What I do with my solitude is look for something stimulating and pleasing to fill it. Which then means when I don’t ‘feel good’ I reach for quick, often shallow, sources of comfort.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts [and encourages, refreshes and convicts] us in all our troubles [and bored, happy and stressful moments], so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (Extra words added by me, although I’m sure someone frowns on me for it. Oh well.)
There is no one like our God. He deserves my worship. He is the source of every mercy, joy and comfort. And He is indescribably worthy of my choosing Him over lesser things.