Idolizing God

Note: I apologize for the shoddy writing and incomplete thought development in this post. I haven’t taken the time to edit it as I normally would; I’ve come down with a doozy of a sinus infection, and between congestion and medication, my head is boggled. But my life is going to hit “ultra-speed” mode the minute I am well, and I wanted to get this out before I hit Crazy Town.

Idolatry is defined by my man Webster (and let’s not forget Merriam) as “immoderate attachment or devotion to something.”

Since I hit this “growth spurt disguised as a brick wall” in my spiritual life, I’ve come to the astonishing conclusion that this is exactly what I do to God. And not in a good way.

It’d be one thing to have an immoderate devotion to God as He has revealed Himself in His Word; but my devotion is to God as I understand Him. I idolize the God of my subjective imagination rather than the objective God of reality.

My default God lens is stuck on “dictator,” and every experience I have of Him is filtered through that lens. Good experiences? I conclude that what I’m doing is pleasing to Him, and I should keep doing more of the same, holding my breath all the while lest he change his mind about me on a whim*. Hard circumstances? I’ve ticked Him off, and I’ve got to figure out how to fix it, stat.

Theologically, I realize that this is not the God revealed in the Bible. My stated doctrine could pass any test, except perhaps one officiated by Joel Osteen. But doctrine-on-a-page is only as useful as it is practically applied, and in practical theology, I serve a rather cruel overlord.

Until I allow God to break me of this idolatry so conveniently masked as holy obedience, as long as I elevate my ‘idol’ above the truth of who He is, I’ll miss the heart of Christianity. I may be able to act out the filigree, but to live in the trappings of a Christianity that isn’t rooted in a good and beautiful God is as heart-breakingly foolish as living a moral lifestyle at the behest of a graven image.

And I think that is, at least in part, what the past few years have been about. I think God has gotten fed up with watching me throw my life away trying to please an unpredictable dictator. As I’ve resisted His persistent efforts to woo me into an actual relationship, He appears to have withdrawn the immediate gratification of His presence to show me how little my image of Him ultimately fulfills, and how much I crave a connection with Him, as He is, not as I imagine Him to be.

He’s unwilling to settle for less than relationship; may I be the same.

PS: Thank you to all of you who have been so incredibly supportive of me as I’ve written about my battles. You are more uplifting than you know.

*Interesting side note: As much as I’ve always been critical of American Christians for their culturally-watered-down Christianity and understanding of God, I have only lately begun to notice how much my Turkish-tinged upbringing has shaped my own lens of God. My ‘idol God’ bears some interesting points of resemblanceĀ to the Allah of Islam. Ah, humility, we meet again.


4 thoughts on “Idolizing God

  1. Sister, thank you. I was at a low the other night; a real, sin-smeared low, and this crazy God of grace had me share my experience of meeting Him in New Zealand. I felt the sting of hypocrisy in every bit of my soul, but as I turned to walk away, I realized that it was He that took me to NZ, led me through some crazy mountains, hitchhiking chaos, and washed out roads to a place called the Garden of Eden. He’s still pursuing me, and he’ll keep pursuing you. It’s one of the most insanely confusing and glorious realities of the gospel. I wish He’d give up on me sometimes, but He won’t. I am His and He is mine, and nothing can pluck us out that hand. Crazy.

  2. Heavily-medicated-and-ill Lauren writes blog posts full of thoughtful truth, beautiful phrasing and humble self-exposition that put my best to shame.

    Thanks, seriously, for being open about this. I’m always encouraged. I don’t see God in my life at all right now and I’m realizing how inadequate my theology is as well — am I doing something wrong? Should I be pursuing him? What does that even mean, and isn’t he the one who pursues me? So why isn’t he? Am I doing something wrong? And so on all night. To the point where I spend my days (unemployed and not taking classes) doing anything, ANYTHING, rather than think. It’s amazing how creative I am when it comes to distractions. :/

    Anyway, good luck with growth!

    1. Thank you so much, Ivy; for reading, for encouraging, and for being open in your own struggles. I’m praying that God makes Himself tangibly apparent to you soon; and that you will be given the grace you need to hang on in the meantime.

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