Representation over Idolization

So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. You are reasonable people. Decide for yourselves if what I am saying is true. When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? 1 Corinthians 10:14-16
I wear a charm of a gold cross around my neck. It is a symbol not to tell others that I am Christian. It is a reminder to me of my commitment to Christ. I have worn it now for nearly fifteen years, which is when I first was born again. Every so often, I will look in the mirror and stare at it. The design of it is simply beautiful, but it is not relevant. It is but a symbol. Not an idol.
Many on this holy week are deeply saddened by the burning of the church of Notre Dame. Others are equally distraught by the burning of African American churches by a man in Louisiana. Both are indeed tragic, but I had to ask myself. What really matters? Does a church burning in one place bare less significance than another? How would God view these? It has nothing to do with who goes to which church. It has everything to do with people being displaced from the place where they praised God. I must remember that the buildings are symbols of God, but they are not God. That’s how you know whether your heart represents Him and not an idol of His.
We must focus on our heart with God to be able to discern a symbol from an idol. There are many verses that speak about God disliking our worship of false idols. In today’s verses, it speaks of something that is very easy to fall into the trap of symbolism becoming idolization. When we say grace at meal time, do we think of it as sacred time to give thanks to God or just a ritual before we eat? My wife and me push our children to say grace. Even our grandchildren including the little ones say it. It’s not because they are at the point where they have this deep relationship with Christ. Instead, it is preparing them so when they ultimately make the decision to follow Him, they will go to Him with their hearts open and body filled with His spirit. A pastor did something that really helped me make it more intimate than ritualistic. In saying grace, he would pray for those who helped prepare the meal. Whether it be my wife at home, family members at an outing, members at church, or the people at the local restaurant, it forces me to focus on those around me as a reminder that it is never about me. It’s always about God and my neighbors. This is how it became a symbol of my faith instead of a ritual of just words. This is not to say everyone needs to change how they say grace. What it says is we are to always check our faith meter whenever we do something. Whether saying grace at the table, worshiping at church, or reading God’s word, we must always ensure we are understanding its intent and not just ‘going through the motions.’
There is a clear distinction between the relationship with and the things that represent God. As we focus on Easter, we must remember to reflect on the love Jesus Christ had for us on the cross. Not that He just died there for us. Remember He rose to glory to show us a pathway to a relationship with Him. Not that He just overcame death for our sins. Our goal is to make clear our relationship with God has meaning and is not just saving grace for if the distinction seems blurry, we may very well have fallen out of the love for God and ventured into the love of those things that represent Him. Jesus said, “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” We can appreciate the structure for its beauty. Let’s not lose sight of what the church really is; the parishioners. What aspect of your life needs an awakening? How can you better distinguish between something representing God vs. it becoming God? My prayer is that in all we do, we focus on representing Him and not idolizing the things of Him. Amen.
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About Kent:
“I am what all Christians are: flawed and always growing. I am not immune to failure, and I don’t always do the right things, but I learn from my mistakes, and always show love to all who I know. Furthermore, through Christ I have joy knowing I have His grace even though I didn’t deserve it and His love even as I can’t imagine it. I have written devotion for the past 14 years using my life’s experiences both before and after being born again and focusing on its relevance to Biblical teachings and today’s culture.”

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