The Threat To God's Mission
The greatest threat to God’s mission isn’t actually outside the church. It’s often within the church. God has always known what his people are like which is why even as Israel was preparing to enter the promised land he reminds them of two things. We read in Deut.6:4-5, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. The God who has redeemed them out of slavery and death in Egypt reminds them that he alone is to be worshipped i.e. he is one above all. There is none like him in power and love, in strength and mercy, in authority and compassion. (Deut.4:35, 39; Ps.86:8; Isaiah 46:9) He is to be worshipped, loved, trusted, depended on, and served above all. As our redeemer we are to give him our hearts to command. But God’s people though saved have always been prone to idolatry i.e. we have a tendency to give our hearts over to something or someone else in worship. And Israel’s story in the Bible is the story of perpetual idolatry. We see the people of God constantly wanting to be like the nations around them. We trust more in the gods of the nations around us than the God who has redeemed us. With our lips we praise God as our redeemer, but with our lives we functionally live like the nations making something or someone else the god we look to find our significance, satisfaction and security in our lives.
"Our hearts become factories of idols in which we fashion and refashion God to fit our needs and desires." ~ Miroslav Volf
The greatest threat to God’s mission is actually our hearts propensity to replace Him with an idol. Author Miroslav Volf writes that when we forget God’s grace to us, ‘Our hearts become factories of idols in which we fashion and refashion God to fit our needs and desires.’ Instead of finding our hearts needs and desires met in the God who has redeemed us, we create idols to fit our hearts needs and desires. Paul in Rom.1:21-23 reminds us that at the heart of sin is our propensity to exchange the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like the creation. The lasting significance, satisfaction and security we long for can only be found in one i.e. the God who is your creator and redeemer, the lasting source and giver of the redemption you seek. But we have a tendency to make things, people and pursuits our idols believing they will meet our hearts needs and desires. We have a tendency to surrender our hearts to things, people and pursuits in the belief that they will give us the significance, satisfaction and security we need and desire. We look for redemption in idols. So with our lips we praise God as our redeemer, but with our lives we functionally look to idols to save us.
We have a tendency to fashion and refashion God to fit our needs and desires. We often take what he gives us and we corrupt it by making it the object of our heart’s worship. It happens all too frequently even within a church committed to God’s mission. You see it when we love our times of praise more than the God we have come to praise. You see it when we make more of our community than Christ Jesus who is supposed to at the heart of our community. You see it when we’re more excited about having knowledge of the Bible than personally knowing the God of the Bible. You see it when we become self-absorbed and tribal in the ministries we serve rather than serving the Lord of the ministry. You see it when we’re more willing to personally make sacrifices for our comfort than we are in seeing lost people saved. You see idolatry when you make things, possessions, people, family, children, pursuits, career, studies, even church and ministry the object of your heart’s worship. Your idolatrous heart is the greatest threat to God’s mission in your life and our church! Guard against idolatry because it is deeply rooted in your heart.
And this is the reason why as Israel enters the promised land they’re also reminded of a second thing i.e. to keep impressing this truth for the generations, that the Lord who has redeemed them alone is to be worshipped, loved and served. (Deut.6:7-12) Every waking moment in their daily lives they are to remember and not forget their redeemer. He alone is to be worshipped, loved and served from the heart. In every good and blessing they enjoy in life they are to remember and not forget their redeemer. He alone is to be worshipped, loved and served from the heart. As we give ourselves to God’s mission as a church community at GracePoint, we must guard our hearts from idolatry and we must remember that God alone who has redeemed us in Christ Jesus is to be worshipped, loved and served in our lives and church.
Eugene Hor - Lead English Pastor/Elder