FREEDOM FROM IDOLATRY IS REEDOM INDEED
We ‘worship’ that which assumes primacy in our lives. On the face of it an obsession with money or fashion or career is not ‘worship.’ But when we such an entity absorbs our being it comes into the same category. One of the most subtle idols is the bid to gain self-worth from our work. Likewise a pervasive idol is religion. In some communities the idol is the distinctives of their religion. In others it is the false christ emanating from their theology.
NO OTHER GODS
Idolatry is the attaching of ‘godness’ to something that is not God and the attributing messianic qualities to rites and behaviors. An idol is something that is treated as god when it is not God. A sub-idolatry is one step removed. Legalism is the associated practise in which Godliness is thought to be gained by doing certain things and abstaining from others – living the knowledge of good and evil (legalism) instead of Christ our life.
Someone has perceptively observed that legalism is dysfunctional not only because it defaces who God is in our minds. The real damage is that legalism defaces the image of God in us making us a ‘lesser us.’
When Jesus cried out, ‘It is finished!’ the alienation of our Adamic self was finished. The union of the self with God had begun.
LIVING IN CHRIST’S ONENESS
Living from the incarnation we are one with God and the expression of God as Jane and Bob. What of idols? We have made an idol according to Paul Tillich when ‘something essentially partial is boosted into universality, and something essentially finite is given infinite significance’.
THAT SUBTLE IDOL
‘The law’ is a noxious form of idolatry. We need to know if we have been socialised into reverence for the law that Jesus did not come to support the law, endorse the law or realise the law in people via the holy Spirit.
Jesus came to reveal Himself in people by the Holy Spirit and to replicate Himself in people by the Spirit. The difference is the difference between the law as you and Jesus as you is the difference in being a pedant and a person.
Life in the Spirit is union with God and the reality of Godliness is to be a son of God. Holiness is the manifestation of God as you, best achieved in rest and belief and quenched by trying too hard.
GOD AS DOOR TO HIMSELF
Thomas Torrance emphasises that God have given us access to Himself but making Himself in us and with us. He writes, “The Spirit of God is God in his freedom to be present to the creature, and so to create this relation and thereby to be the life of the creature. And God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, especially in revelation, is God himself in that he can not only come to man but also be in man, and thus open up man and make him capable and ready for himself, and thus to complete his revelation in him.” (1)
ONE GOD, ONE LIFE
We see that the life of God comes from the life of God and never from inert objects, abstractions, behaviours, usages and conformities. One can make a golden calf out of the law, religion and the entire paraphernalia of intellectual Christianity and belief system.
We are one with God by choosing to be one with God, by believing that we are one and in placing our being in and with Him rather than in some externality that we have been taught is sacred, but which is actually an idol. An idol because it diverts us from the truth of the vicarious of humanity of Jesus which means that His life is our life.
(1) Torrance, Thomas F.. The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons (T&T Clark Cornerstones) (p. 60). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.