“But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14
I walked through the Michael Carlos museum at Emory University, carefully reading the history behind the Egyptian Art collection. The lights, purposefully dimmed to preserve the ancient objects, brought an eerie aura to the place.
In every room, objects of art, everyday life and worship filled multiple display cases.
The visit was quite unforgettable. I remember looking at replicas of the nobles’ tombs, filled with objects, jewelry and food, all destined to the dead man’s afterlife.
“How could the most civilized people on earth at the time believe such things?” I found myself saying to my husband.
I remember reading about their idol worship and ceremonies and thinking about how deceived the human spirit can be.
They bowed down to majestic statues, and sacrificed to please and appease their gods.
They busied themselves building monuments of unprecedented magnitude to honor mortal, sinful men. Their gods.
“For you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Exodus 34:14
We know that idol worship did not stop in ancient times.
One visit to India and one can witness the countless deities that are worshipped every day. Millions bow down, sacrifice, and dedicate their lives to please and serve their false gods.
We sneer at their beliefs.
We shake our heads at their spiritual blindness.
And then, we turn around, get in our car, and go home to our own little gods: Wealth, prestige, self-fulfillment.
It’s an old story and you’ve heard the sermon: Your children can become an idol. So can your spouse. Or you can live as one who worships their profession, their house… or good looks.
But I want to write about another dangerous, insidious idol that is growing by leaps and bounds within our Christian midst:
The Idols hidden behind our service to the One True God.
And there it is. I said it.
This very issue has become a point of constant alert for me, personally, at this age of Christian stardom and social media craze.
Any time a writer sits with a publisher to pitch their book idea, the first words out of the publishers’ mouth after we finish our “elevator pitch” are usually the following:
“So, tell me about your platform.”
I don’t blame them. Not a bit. Publishers spend thousands of dollars on a book publishing process. It’s a very expensive ordeal, and they certainly need to know how much my name, or my speaking calendar will contribute to the sales of my book. They need to know how many people that follow me on Facebook and Twitter will buy my book, just because my name is on the cover.
For that reason, I completely agree that we, writers with minds full of things to say about our awesome God, should take time to build our online presence. So, don’t get me wrong. I want you to follow me. Please do (smiles).
The issue is when this chase takes our focus from why we do what we do and whose name we truly wish to exalt.
Maybe other writers don’t struggle with this issue. But I confess that I have in the past.
Maybe because I am not really a natural when it comes to marketing, much less social media. Maybe because my attention spam suffers when I have too many windows open on my computer. Maybe it’s plain evil, old fashioned pride.
I don’t know. But the truth of the matter is, I have found out that the search to be known can easily become an idol. And I find it hard to believe that no one else struggles with that.
It’s not that difficult to be so enthralled by a God-given task, that one becomes more focused on frantic activities that “have worked for others”, than on being still before God to hear His particular direction for our lives.
We fall in the trap of spending too much time busying our hands, rather than looking for His hand at work in our lives…
And we may find ourselves dedicating much time on growing our name, instead of seeking His face.
It’s not just writers that face this issue.
Christian worship leaders, pastors, choir singers, Sunday school teachers. We should all be asking the same question, often, and check our hearts for an honest answer:
What name am I trying to make famous?
Mine… or Yahweh’s?
I am thankful that God keeps my heart in check. Because the enemy never relents. He wants me and you to be prideful, jealous, covetous… idolatrous. Because the moment we turn our focus from growing Jesus’ Name to exalting ours, he wins.
And worse yet – the anointing leaves.
That’s a sobering truth.
You will know that you are serving God for the right reason, when you don’t care where you stand in the choir loft. Or, if you are a soloist, it does not bother you if the minister of music gave “your” song to another soloist to sing.
You will know that you are serving God for the right reason, when you rejoice when your friend’s ministry receives a special blessing or recognition. You are truly happy for her success – and you let her know how proud you are for her!
You will know that you are serving God for the right reason, when you don’t mind sharing ideas (or the spotlight) with those who are working for the same Boss…
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.” 1 Peter 5:6
Humble service. That’s the only service that Heaven counts as worthy.
May God help us keep a heart that is focused on exalting His Name, whatever we do. For only then will we hear these promised words from the Master:
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your Master.” Matthew 25:21Whose Name Are You Working to Exalt? Jesus'... or Yours? Click To Tweet