Check Your Allegiances
Marcy Walker | Acts 17:22-28
I love food!
I remember when I started teaching fitness classes. Part of my motivation, if I’m being honest, was so that I could continue to enjoy all the tasty foods I wanted without gaining weight. And it worked – well, until I had an injury that ended my fitness career
I was so distraught about my injury and not being able to work out, which I enjoyed doing, that I ran to food for comfort.
Even though I knew how certain foods affected my body I couldn’t seem to help it.
Whenever I experienced heartache, I ran to food.
Whenever I was excited, I ran to food.
If you were to look at my bank statements most of my money went to food.
Could it be that I was bowing down to the God of my belly?
We all have idols.
Not the golden calf sitting out in the front yard kind of idols, but the kind that sneak into our lives unannounced and wiggle their way into our hearts.
Idols are the go-tos; the what-we-reach-fors; the start-out-small but end up large-and-in-charge kind of activity or purchase or habit.
“People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So, you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” (Acts 17: 22-28 NIV).
Idolatry seems so primitive and irrelevant to us in 21st Century Western civilization. It’s hard for us to relate to bowing down and worshiping a stone image of Zeus or a golden Calf. Yet idolatry is one of the top issues discussed in the Bible.
What if I told you the issues you are struggling with, the discouragement you are dealing with and even the lack of purpose you’re encountering can all be a result of idolatry?
Modern day idols are anything we look to to fill a void, but that ultimately leave us empty. We can be so entrenched in the status quo that we don’t even recognize who or what god has taken root in our hearts.
The heart is at the root of what it is that you ultimately worship.
In cardiology there is a procedure called an angiogram that is used to diagnose the health of your heart. The cardiologist injects dye into the patient’s bloodstream, then an X-ray of the arteries is taken to locate any blockages. Once the blockage is located the doctor inserts a stent through the patient’s leg and opens up the blood vessel. Many times a heart problem goes undiagnosed because the symptoms don’t seem to be relevant. Patients seek to treat the symptoms, when in actuality they are experiencing a heart problem, so the patient will never get better until the heart is addressed.
In Kyle Idleman’s book “Gods at War” Kyle takes readers through an exercise called a Spiritual Angiogram. It’s a series of questions that only each one of us can individually answer that will act as dye being injected into our spiritual bloodstream to help reveal and locate some of our heart problems. I found these questions so very helpful for my own life and I invite you to later on today or this week sit down in your quiet time and reflect on these questions:
• What Disappoints You?
When we feel overwhelmed by disappointment, it is a good sign that something has become far more important to us than it should be.
• What Do You Complain About the Most?
What we complain about reveals what really matters to us. Whining shows who has power over us.
• What Worries You?
Whatever it is that wakes you or keeps you up has the potential to be an idol.
• Where Do You Make Your Financial Sacrifices?
The bible says, where your treasure is, that’s where your heart is.
• Where Is Your Sanctuary?
Where do you go when you are hurting?” Where do you look for emotional rescue?
• What Infuriates You?
Maybe your quick temper reveals the oldest idol of them all-the god of me.
Status quo for the Athenians was to reach for gods they had made themselves with their own hands. Gods that had no authority. Gods that could never fill their emptiness. Gods that didn’t have the power to heal the sick or raise the dead. Gods that couldn’t give them a purpose for their future.
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and that does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else (vs 24-25)
This God, the creator of the world and everything in it, is the only God that can truly fill your lonely heart.
If you have an Apple phone and it stops working, are you going to go to Samsung to have your phone fixed? No, you are going to go to the Apple store. Why? Because no one knows better how to fix the problem than the creator. If this is the case, then why do we run to money, sex, social media, or food when we have a problem instead of running to the maker of our souls, the crafter of our minds, the builder of our lives, the creator of the world and everything in it?
God wants to be invited into every part of our lives, weaving it all together as one beautiful tapestry.
So how do we invite an extraordinary God into our ordinary lives?
There are four practices I have implemented that help me to be more aware of God who lives with in me:
1. Spend time with God
We spend time on the things we care about most.
2. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude can help us to feel more connected with God, giving us a fresh perspective on our lives and allowing us to see God’s blessing in every situation.
3. Practice Love
Love, is who God is. Love helps us to find greater meaning in life. Practicing love helps others experience Christ through you.
4. Do Life with Others
We were not meant to walk this Jesus life alone. Doing life with others helps us to pour out, demonstrate and receive the love of God to and from others.
These practices have helped me as I continue to do the work of dethroning the idols that have taken root in my heart, such as my belly, and to put the ultimate creator and savior Jesus in its place.
Watch the full message: