Worship, Idols, and Solutions to All Our Moral Problems


Wow! We had a lot of great comments on twitter (hashtag #HCPreach) as we were preaching this past Sunday and we weren't able to address all the questions in our Q&A time. So below I've addressed a few more questions and included some of the information that I prepared for the sermon, but never ended up preaching! Feel free to keep talking about this. We love to hear how you are processing all of this information on idolatry, worship, and God's four-word solution to every moral problem in the whole entire universe! 

 ‏@AngelaG74852299: In offering yourself as a living sacrifice how do you not get caught in burnout from serving people that just take take take? #HCpreach

What a great question! It seems to me burnout can be a result of idolatry. Ministry becomes an idol when we begin to live for ministry instead of living for Jesus. When this happens, we become imbalanced, we start to see ministry as the "all-important thing in our lives" and we end up exhausting ourselves to keep up (note, ministry never ends!). So, we could say, "no one has a burnout problem, they have a worship problem... they have traded worship of God for worship of ministry, and thus they are feeling burned out." Ministry is bad when it gets in between you and God. When it becomes the goal itself. Ministry is the path of service and love to God, not the destination itself. Burnout happens when we ignore our own capabilities or sensibilities and instead of following God's path, we try to forge our own paths. We try to fix problems that only God can fix. We try to fill in where only God belongs. We try to serve past our own limitations. When this happens, God loses glory because we are trying to fix things in our own strength, not God. Instead, if we are worshipping God, and God is at the center of our lives, we'll be able to sometimes say "no," sometimes say, "not right now" and every once in a while we say, "yes, because Jesus is leading me there, I'll go!" 

‏@y_scully152 #HCPreach is, or can, fear be an idol?

Yes, if fear is a centering of your existence, then fear is an idol for you. Anything other than God that is put in the #1 place in our lives is an idol and it is that thing or person that we are worshipping. 

‏@pian0dude #hcpreach Is it possible to make worship itself an idol unknowingly?

Yes, kinda! When many people hear the word, "Worship" they think of the EXPERIENCE of worship, and they don't separate that from worship itself, and this is where the problem is. It is so difficult to discern the difference between emotions and "the Spirit" (and yes, there is a huge difference!). So, for example, some people are tempted to think that if everyone's hands are raised, THEN the Spirit is working. If everyone is on their knees, THEN the Spirit is moving. If people are crying, THEN the Spirit is convicting. These are all false assumptions.

The Holy Spirit works in many ways, and some people have traded in the worship of GOD (with all the diverse manifestations that will result from that) for the worship of EMOTION. Thus, it is assumed that anything that gets in the way of emotion is bad... but not so! When that happens, emotion has become an idol. Instead of singing to God for the purpose of connecting with Him and serving Him and thanking Him for all He's done, we instead worship God so we (or others) can feel emotional. This is not pleasing to God. This is idolatry. 

@Artgirl3Monique #hcpreach is there a way we can cover the other 3 another time?

Of course! Below is some of the content from the sermon I prepared but never preached :) 

The Other Gotcha Idol, Alcohol: 

Suppose someone comes in and says, “I drink too much, I have a drinking problem” – I would say, “no, you have a worship problem which is causing you to drink too much.” You can imagine the puzzled look on the face of that person after hearing me say that. But I would say that b/c the root of every problem in life is always you are worshipping someone or something other than God. You can pull all the weeds but if you don’t grab the root of the problem it always comes back. If you say “I’m an alcoholic” what that means is that alcohol is in the position of glory for you. Alcohol is God to you. You’re sad? You run to the bottle for consolation. You’re happy? You run to the bottle for celebration. Whatever happens, you run to the bottle. When you are alone you drink to console yourself. When life goes good, you drink to celebrate with your friends. If that is the case, what do you sacrifice? Well, its expensive so you could sacrifice a lot of money. You could sacrifice your health. And your job, and your marriage, and your relationships b/c you start speaking out of drunkenness, acting out of drunkenness, what is happening is your taking all sorts of things in your life, you are placing them on a proverbial altar, and you are slaughtering them so that alcohol may be worshipped as God. Alcoholism is fruit, idolatry is root.

When you put alcohol at the center of your life, what you are doing is choosing to be filled by a foreign substance rather than being filled with the Holy Spirit who loves you, who can speak to God for you in language you can’t even utter. The Holy Spirit can lead you in the right direction, can illumine your path, can help you discern God’s will, and instead of worshipping God and being filled with His presence you are choosing a drink that ruins your body, your brain, and your relationships. At the core of every addiction to alcohol is a worship replacement. A worship substitution. Every time, an alcoholic is someone who lives for, pours himself out for, glories in, worships alcohol instead of worshipping God. And of course, it’s a gotcha idol b/c the world tells you its cool and refined and exciting to drink alcohol, but suddenly when you drink too much you are known as dangerous, irresponsible and pathetic. The world tells you to worship it, and then when you do, it mocks you to your face. This is what inevitably happens when we worship anything else besides God.

The Other Accepted Idol, Independence/Individualism: 

When independence is at the center of our life, we think these sorts of thoughts:

• I don’t need anyone else
• Who does that person think they are to be giving me advice?
• I don’t like what that person is saying, thus I don’t like that person
• I disagree with what that person is doing, so I will stay away from them or I will make fun of them.
• I can figure all this out ON MY OWN.
• We make fun of people who get counseling or therapy or look for advice about how to live life because we think it’s foolish to live according to anyone else’s standards.
• If I am worshipping the god of independence, The ultimate standard for me is my thoughts, my past, my ideas, my authors, my education, my experience, my way of life.

Here’s the thing - Our society tells us this is a good thing. After all, why shouldn’t we value our freedom? Why shouldn’t we glory in our ability to do what we want? Society says, “Whatever you do, Don’t let anyone take your independence from you.” We begin to value more than anything else, our self-esteem. I have rights, after all, the Bible, er, I mean, the Constitution tells me so! We start to believe the worst thing someone could do to me is try to get in between me and what I want. What do we sacrifice to worship the God of independence? We sacrifice Godly counsel, life-giving friendships, opportunities to change and grow, ability to see things from a broader perspective. We sacrifice grace, patience, mercy and love so that we can do what we wanna do in the way we wanna do it and everyone who isn’t happy with that can just get over themselves because there is no way those people have any idea about how I should live my life. This leads to isolation, decrease in friendships, oftentimes leads people into depression, anxiety and a general sense of hopelessness about the future.

In contrast, life in Christ is a life that goes from independence to DEPENDENCE on Christ. In Christ, we don’t have to have it all figured out! We can be freed to realize we are weak on our own, we need Christ’s strength to do the things we want to do, we need others to help us and cheer for us and support us and forgive us when we fail and help us get up when we fall. Life in Christ is a call into a community of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control against such there is no law, besides the law of independence.
Because some of us are worshipping the god of independence, we give up living the life God wants for us, we close our doors, we back up, we look in the mirror and we satisfy ourselves with ourselves because nothing else looks as good as my own reflection. Independence is fruit, idolatry is root. Those of us who struggle with independence do so because we are worshipping ourselves and are sacrificing everything else so that we can get what we want right now. You say, well that simply sounds like narcisim, pride, a sense of inflated identity, selfishness. I say yes, that’s what all independence leads to, because it is all idolatry. Independence is a worship of self instead of a worship of God. Don’t go to the fruit when you can go to the root. Idolatry is at the base of individualism. And I’m not so sure the sacrifices are paying off.

The Other Christian Idol, Career: 

Work is a God-ordained aspect of our life which means its very important but it also means we sometimes make it more than it actually is. When we make work the center of our lives, what we’ve done is REPLACED God for work, or career, or money. You may be a person who is building your career, praise God, that’s not a bad thing on its own, BUT you can worship it, and when you do you sacrifice your health, Sabbath, church, time with other Christians, your marriage, your children, for what? To further your career... So you can make more money. So you can have a bigger house. So you can have a bigger second house. You say, Pastor Mike, are you saying its bad to have a good career? No, of course not, I’ve got one myself! I personally invested a lot of time and money so I can be a pastor who is equipped to deal with the difficulties you go through. But if you or I spend all our time on WORK and it is solely how I identify myself, then my career is no longer a means of worship, my career has become an object of worship. You see that slight shift? That shift is what makes all the difference.

And what ends up happening is you give up, (you sacrifice) all sorts of things that God wants for you. All of a sudden the children and family and friends and health and sleep are sacrificed so you can make more money and advance your career. Yes, you want to work AS worship, you want God to be worshipped in your home and you want others to enjoy your stuff for the glory of God but it easily gets out of focus. You start worshipping the career you’ve made. If we aren’t careful, things that God has made or things that we have made take the place of God and everything else gets sacrificed for the glory of that person or thing. Careerism is fruit, idolatry is root.

Please hear me, I’m not saying we shouldn’t work, or we shouldn’t work hard, or we shouldn’t have a job with inconveniences, because I’ve got a job like that too, but we have to figure out, who is LORD of our lives? Is our work a way we can worship God, or have we made our career or our budgets or our pay checks our functional Saviors and now we are we sacrificing everything else for the god of our career? Biblically, no one has a work-problem. That’s just surface-level talk. Biblically, work-a-holics have a worship problem! They have substituted God for work and the fruit of that is they are now sacrificing all other good things for something that will not last.



Well done. Thanks for putting these other un-preached topics here.

Very insightful, very appreciated. Thanks for sharing. I can't help but wonder, though, how to know if the decisions I am making are based on my voice or His. When the decision I am making will hurt either one person/people or another, how can I know what is following His will v. what is rationalizing? In other words, how do I avoid idolizing my inner voice, so to speak, or confirm that that's not what I am doing - that I really am hearing Him.

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