Our worship service at The Chapel 1ended.
You can exit the sanctuary down the crowded main aisle. Or go out the side exit – that’s a nice shortcut.
On a recent Sunday, quite a few people, eying the shortcut, headed over to the side door. But the door was locked.
A crowd began to build up and mill around. Some people got discouraged, gave up, and headed over towards the main exit. But — then — someone reached up to the left of the locked door and punched a red button. The door swung open! Those folks who waited now began to stream out.
When we are faced with temptation, we have a choice, just like the people by the door. Do we trust that there’s a way out — or do we give up?
It’s likely that this verse is familiar to you:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13).
But less familiar is the following verse:
Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:14).
Note, an idol does not have to be an actual figure that we bow down to. Rather, it is anything we are tempted to make more important than Jesus. If we give in to temptation, we are worshiping an idol instead of Jesus. But we have a choice: we can flee from our tempting idol to something else.
I hereby confess one of my own idols: vastly overestimating what good politics can accomplish.
To worship my idol, I was spending way too much time watching MSNBC and Fox News. The former was enraged that our president was ruining our country. The latter was enraged that our wonderful president was being destroyed by his enemies. Both sides were making an idol out of how the correct politics would cure so much of what is wrong with our country. I was getting sucked up into their anger; all their futile arguing was giving me agita; I gave in to the temptation to enter their vitriol instead of doing something worthwhile.
So, during Lent, I started a fast from those two networks. Lent ended several months ago but…my fast has not ended yet. Sometimes I do miss the fights, and I am tempted to hear how the two sides are reacting to the latest Presidential tweet; but don’t think I am missing something of lasting value by not tuning in.
Now, if politics is the idol I am fleeing from, I need to flee to something else.
So, I have fled from politics to…. more of Jesus. This sounds spiritual, but it’s not only spiritual: On a visit for a routine checkup the nurse took my blood pressure—and, not knowing about my FOX/MSNBC fast, she said, “Your blood pressure is way down; have you started taking a drug for it?” Nope — it wasn’t a drug; it was what I stopped taking — exposure to angry arguments!
I encourage you to reflect on what your own idol might be. Yours might be politics, too; but it could be sex, money; or something else. When our idol tempts us — we know that God not only gives us a way out but also provides something to flee to.
When we hit our own red button, we’re turning from our idol to the satisfaction that only Jesus can provide.