In his book, Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart (2013), Kyle Idleman develops the central idea that we all worship something. We are beings created for worship, and if God isn’t the recipient of our time, money, attention and affections, other things are.
In chapter twelve, Idleman shows how God tested Abraham. God knew that Abraham’s son Isaac represented everything to him — he was the blessed result of years of patient longing and expectation. And yet God asked Abraham to give his son back; to sacrifice him on the altar.
- “God’s greatest gifts are also his greatest tests. The more beautiful a thing is, the more capacity it has to become an idol. The more I fear losing it, the more likely I am to worship it.”
Of course, Abraham passed the test (this one, at least). He set out for Mount Moriah early in the morning. He wasn’t dragging his feet. His immediate obedience and steady resolve showed great faith and is greatly convicting.
As I consider this story, I’m forced to ask myself whether I truly worship God over my family. As a recently married man, I love my wife so badly sometimes it hurts. Do I really love God more? Am I keeping my adoration properly ordered?
- “We … ascribe divine attributes to things that aren’t divine: looking for satisfaction, significance, and ultimately even salvation in all the wrong places. God is jealous. He wants to provide those things, and he is the only one who can.”
Idleman also talks about how parents can be over-affected by their children. This too can be a sign that our family is receiving undue worship. If our children are upset, unhappy, act in anger, or make bad decisions, are we bound to feel the same? Do we look inwardly in judgment? I must be doing something wrong, we secretly think. I need to invest more. I need to love better. Though we love our families dearly, they should not be our everything. They should not be the source of our meaning or validation.
- “Sometimes it’s easier to understand that other things — money, pleasure — won’t satisfy the soul. But family is different. We know that God ordained it, and it’s the basis of society. So we tend to think we can create heaven simply by having a great family.”
- “We live in the day of the ‘helicopter parents,’ so called because they hover over their children constantly. ‘My whole life is wrapped up in my kids,’ they smile, assuming this is a good thing. But it may actually be detrimental to their children leading healthy, ordinary lives.”
Idleman also delineates the damage caused to relationships when we worship family.
- Consequences of placing another human being on the throne of your heart:
- Unrealistic pressure
- Unreachable expectations
- Unreasonable disappointment
- Undeserved criticism
- Unfair comparisons
Here’s a final quote which summarizes this issue well:
- “A relationship that is a disordered love and takes God’s place in our lives is ultimately destructive to that relationship. Or put in the positive, we love others best when we love God most.”