Psalm 97:1-7

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.

Clouds and thick darkness surround him: righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side.

His lightning lights up the world;  the earth sees and trembles.

The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.

The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all peoples see his glory.

All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols— worship him, all you gods!

The Problem with Hoarders

The TV show “Hoarders” features true stories about people with compulsions so strong that they can’t let go of their “stuff.” On the show, loved ones, psychologists, and organizational experts are brought in to try to help the hoarders stop hoarding.

For example, one episode focused on a middle-aged hoarder named Phyllis. Her house was so cluttered with dolls and other belongings that she had to crawl over mounds of garbage in order to reach the recliner where she eats and sleeps. Phyllis’s children were so concerned about her welfare that they threatened to contact Adult Protective Services. But Phyllis’s compulsions prevailed, and she chose to live without running water and heat and to huddle under blankets to stay warm.

Another episode told the story about a man who has collected such a large stash of games, action figures, books, and novelties that it’s nearly impossible to move through his home. Yet another episode featured an automobile lover who faces $20 million in fines if he doesn’t get rid of the hundreds of junked cars on his property.

Most people who watch this show have the same reaction: they can’t believe that people just won’t let go of all the stuff that’s slowly sabotaging important relationships and harming themselves. Unfortunately, most viewers don’t see that at times all of us can act like hoarders when it comes to our spiritual lives. For instance, I have a tendency to misplace my affections; to value some things more highly than I ought, to cling to some things that aren’t doing me any good—like worry, resentment, gossip, pride, self-righteousness, lust, or anger.

1 Corinthians 10:14-22

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.

18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

Run away from idolatry. Idolatry is not just what you worship but also not worshipping the one true God.

Paganism is all about self and sin. It’s all about me. That’s what idols are. They were gods that could be controlled.

“The worst thing about idols is that they are utterly useless when you need them most.”

Any person who does not worship God is worshipping an idol, and almost everything on earth can become an idol and consume our heart and passion:

  • self
  • family
  • possessions
  • work
  • sports
  • politics
  • sex
  • education’
  • fitness
  • power

In practical terms, an idol is anything that consumes someone’s mind, heart, soul, and body. An idol is whatever a person gives their whole self to. People repeatedly choose cheap substitutes for God.

I can’t go to church on Sunday and then I will find my own way of getting what I want on Monday. That doesn’t work.

If you run from your idols, who will you run to? To God, of course. The only way to escape idolatry is to stay close to God. Our hearts are either consumed by God or by someone or something else. Someone or something has our attention and loyalty: either God or some other person or thing.

Idol Assessment

What is your greatest fear, and what does that say about what you really worship? Here’s an assessment tool to determine which idol lurks in your heart:

Control: You know you have a control idol if your greatest nightmare is uncertainty.

Approval: You know you have an approval idol if your greatest nightmare is rejection.

Comfort: You know you have a comfort idol if your greatest nightmare is stress or demands.

Power: You know you have a power idol if your greatest nightmare is humiliation or embarrassment.

Participation in the Lord’s Supper

Koinonia is the relationship and connection we have with each other and with God. Participation in the Lord’s Supper identifies us as a worshipper of the Lord (v. 16). When we celebrate the cup and the bread, we declare that we worship the Lord …

      •      that we are in communion and fellowship with Him

      •      that we are connected together with Christ by His body and blood

      •      that we have given our lives to Him

      •      that we are committed to His death and purpose

The Principle: Fellowship equals influence.

The greatest influence in your life is who you fellowship with. You can fellowship with Christians or with someone going away from Jesus. You connect with them. Who are you participating with?

We say, “my greatest influence is what I think.” That’s not true. It’s who we hang out with. That’s who we become most like. We take on their habits.

You are the average of your five closest friends.

We are relational. Connecting with God and His people. If I live disconnected from God’s people, I will become more like the people I do choose to be with. The Lord’s Supper is not just a ritual. We eat and drink together and with Jesus. It influences your life for good and for God.

Worship is pulling our affections off our idols and putting them on God.

2 Unhealthy ways of dealing with participation:

  1. Disconnection – Jesus didn’t teach that. He says, “be in the world but not of it.”
  2. Immersion – We wrongly think: “I’m free so I can do whatever I want with anyone I want.” That’s fake news that I can do all the same things everyone else is doing and still follow Jesus. I will talk like them and act like them. That’s worse. We aren’t the same. We need to be different so they see Jesus in us.

Healthy Participation

  • I choose to love and serve everyone, but I have connection with people who are going in the same direction as me and as God!

Everybody has to live for something, but Jesus argues that if that thing is not him, it will fail you. It will enslave you …. Nobody put this better than the American writer David Foster Wallace. Wallace was at the top of his profession. He was an award-winning, best-selling novelist who committed suicide in 2008. But before his death he gave a famous commencement address in which he said this to the graduating class:

Because here’s something else that’s true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism …. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And … pretty much anything you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things—if they are where you tap real meaning in life—then you will never have enough …. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you …. Worship power—you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart—you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.