Friday, February 09, 2007

The Impossible-February 9


Alden, barely four years old, said to her granddad. “I love three things.”

Granddad asked, “What three things do you love?”

“I love God . . .” With the naming of the first, Granddad’s heart became happy.

Alden listed her second-love. “I love Jesus . . .” Granddad grew even happier.

Alden finished the list, “. . .and I love money!”

When my friend told me the story about her granddaughter, I chuckled. But, Jesus met adults who still believed they could love God and money with equal devotion.

A rich young ruler thought he wanted to follow Jesus, but when asked to give his inheritance to the poor and follow Jesus, he grew sad. The young man chose the god Money. He followed the scent of wealth, the jingle of coins, preferring slippery riches over an ever-present God.

Jesus told about an impossibility. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24).

This is a strong statement, a strong contrast, a line drawn in the sand of Israel, a call to make a decision because fence-straddling is soul dangerous.

Much earlier, God warned the Israelites and aliens living among them that heart-idols separate them from God. Jeremiah 14:7 tells how a broken relationship with God is caused by any who “sets up idols in his heart.” Here, the original phrase for idol is “large idol, what is rolled about.” These were gigantic altars where sacrifices were made.

Eugene Peterson in The Message says people with massive heart-idols are those who sacrifice the good things in life and “install the wickedness that will ruin them at the center of their lives.” Godliness wilts when camped in the shadow of an idol.

Deceitful things pay cheap rent and move into hearts. Even good things can become cunning idols—careers, goals, sports, politics, wealth, personal appearance, food, acquaintances, money, possessions or hobbies. It’s the nature of idols to grow and take up more and more floor space in the heart.

God made promises to those who put him first. Just as he feeds robins and fashions shimmering dress for flowers, God will provide his children with daily needs and will be present as a genuine companion.

Thank you, little Alden. You made me think about Who is at the center of life. Now, I’m off to reflect on the three things I really love.

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