What Do You Think? Wednesday
Joshua thought he knew them all, the 10 Commandments that we’ve spent the last few weeks on. As I told you Monday, he snarled a bit and glanced for something else but realized these rules can easily escape. I did, too, only my realization wasn’t of a memory loss but something I had yet to even consider.
Thou shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3).
I had this first commandment locked in mind when my eyes opened to all the idols that consumed my life: African décor; my hair; my Sunday dress; and my need to defend myself were at the top of the list. I wrestled with these gods for years, finally pinning them down and not bowing to them again. But my desire to defend myself is rising again as I wrestle with the loss in the eyes of some loved ones of my good reputation, my new idol that I just recognized as such.
My loved ones have always felt free to challenge me, the way I handled a friendship, responded to my boss or even wore my hair. For the most part these challenges were occasional, but now their challenges are a constant strum and the music seems so loud! I have loved ones who question the effectiveness of the boys’ home education though they have seen the benefits; a friend who questions my social justice record; and some who say I’m insensitive, harsh even. None of the challenges are new. Now they just seem to be a concentrated steady beat.
I thought because some of the challenges—like my decision to home educate or my less visible focus on social justice—were old that my people would have settled my decisions in their minds. Not so. Even though my loved ones are a minority and their challenges oppose the many notes and face to face comments I get, I focus on the noisy minority. I have contemplated returning to an idol to try to get them to see the merit in my decisions, and this is troublesome. My focus, however, is understandable.
We all expect that our loved ones who we believed knew our good character would not question our character (e.g., positioning my children for failure or disregarding those in need). It hurts that the person our loved ones knew to make wise decisions is no longer treated as wise when our decisions go contrary to what they believe. To make the pain go away, to make our relationships right again, we consider what we might not otherwise consider, in my case defending myself. When I wrote a post about how a change in you may change others’ view of you, at that time I didn’t know that the pain associated with their changed view of me is really coming from the death of my reputation. I had a good name among them, but now my character is challenged as I seek to do what I know God has called me to do.
Of course in my attempt to obey Christ I mess up. I say some things the wrong way, at the wrong time, in the wrong tone, but never did I suspect my decisions would negatively color my character. I didn’t suspect that because I had a stellar reputation, one I held in high esteem when I should have viewed it as nothing.
The Apostle Paul commands believers not to put “confidence in the flesh,” citing that his human pedigree could cause him to be the most boastful of all (Philippians 3:4-6). Instead he says,
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith– that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:8-11).
That’s the confidence I need; that’s the confidence we all need as we attempt to surrender all, even a reputation.
What are some of your idols that you have recently uncovered? How have they affected the way you worship God? Please, tell me what you think.