My name is Legion; for we are many. ~ The Gadarene
If you make anything more important to your happiness, more important to your sense of self, more important to your sense of security than Jesus, it is your master. You have made a pact with it. You have made a Faustian deal. What is your heart centering on?
And if you win you get this shiny fiddle made of gold,
But if you lose the devil gets your soul. ~ Charlie Daniels
What is the driving thing that makes you want to get up in the morning? What is the real thing that makes you feel good about yourself? Or what is the core reason you can sleep at night?
I love how Rebecca Pippert puts it in her book Out of the Salt Shaker,
“Whatever controls us is our lord. The person who seeks power is controlled by power. The person who seeks acceptance is controlled by acceptance. We do not control ourselves. We are controlled by the lord of our lives.”
I’ve made a pack with somebody. I think I’m in charge and I’m wrong. Whatever is the center of my life.
Is it possible for security to be an idol?
According to Jesus, faithfulness moves us beyond love of neighbor to love of enemy. If pursuit of my safety trumps my ability to love whomever God has in my path, fear wins, and I distance myself from God’s heart for the world.
How can I love my “enemies” if I don’t know them? The idol of safety moves us away from people who are different than us and sends us inward to those who look, think, and act like we do. There is no love outside of relationship; there is only misunderstanding, demonization, and stereotype.
Jesus never called us to be safe; he called us to be faithful.
Interestingly, I find myself wrestling through this stuff during Holy Week. This is the week in which Jesus models to the world life as it was meant to be lived.
A life that ended with the uttering of this prayer for his enemies: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” These are the stories we tell in Sunday school and say, “Wow, Jesus was fearless! He wasn’t scared of anything, and I would do anything to live and love like that.”
Imagine if instead he chose to worship the idol of safety and never left the security of his little Galilean synagogue so he could read Torah and remain isolated from all the violence of the world? That story would not only stink, it wouldn’t reflect the heart of a God who literally moved into our human neighborhood to remind us what love looks like.
So, many of us buy more guns, hoard more food, pull away and only listen to and engage with people who are exactly like us in skin color, musical tastes, politics and fundamental sensibilities. And, as a result, we feel emboldened; we feel powerful. We might say, “They can have my guns when they pry them from my cold dead hands.” We almost dare “them” (pick a “them”) and say, “Come at me!”
But the more we focus on safety and security in our older age, the more we will find ourselves enslaved; because if we have at our core anything as more important than Jesus, our fears will reveal that we have struck a Faustian bargain.
By the way, I am not anti-security. I am anti-idol.
It is in seeing the cost Jesus paid to defeat evil in your life that you begin to understand how much He loves you, that frees you. Now you can look at the good things in your world and realize they are not the ultimate things; and the Faustian pact is broken.
Now your safety is just a lock on your door. Your security is wise financial stewardship.
They are not your savior.
During the Second World War, when Hitler conquered France, he immediately shut down the borders to keep the people from leaving the country. But one small border town saw its population diminish rapidly, so the Germans searched for the answer.
It turned out, this town had a cemetery that straddled the border with the neighboring country, which was free from Nazi control. The locals opened up an ancient gate in the wall of the cemetery, and they kept having “funerals” – except the people never came back! They went out to the tombs, but they just kept on walking, right out the back gate, to their freedom!
Perhaps it is time to have a funeral for the idols of your heart and walk out of the cemetery of your life in freedom singing that old familiar song,
All to Jesus I surrender
All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him
In His presence daily live