Idols and Times of Refreshing

When we listen to a sermon, the stakes are high - Jesus said in the parable of the soils that covetousness is always ready, looking to snatch the Word from us and make us unfruitful, or from becoming Christians (Matt. 13:22). The moment of the sermon is a battle. The battlefield is our hearts, because the location of the “root” of faith (13:21), and the location of covetousness, is our hearts.

This is why we talk a lot about “idols”. Idols are things you and I desire and value (“covet”) more than God. Does all this talk of idols turn you off? “Can’t we leave church, just for once, feeling good?”

The goal of the gospel is more than “feeling good”. More! Consider:

• We all have idols. Lots of them. “We” being Christians. Our hearts churn out idols like McDonald’s and burgers. We are not yet what we will be.

• The result is wreckage. When we desire things above God, life doesn’t work. Life breaks. But God sovereignly bounds and is in the wreckage, to turn us back to him, away from our idols, because . . .

• Idols are never capable of doing what we employ them to do. We think that life is found in our idols. Security, respect, fulfillment - life. God brings futility to show us that we’ve shifted our weight onto an object inadequately suited to give what we want.

• God does this because He’s lovingly out for what we’re out for. Actually He’s first out for His own glory, which He gains by being the Giver of our life. Look at Acts 3:20 - we are told to repent “that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” - the Spirit brings life.

• The sermon aims to move our hearts, that we would shift our weight back onto God, for life. This requires pointing out where we’re standing on thin balsa wood for life. Next comes forgiveness for our straying. But the point, the goal, is not even forgiveness. It’s “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.” Foretastes of heaven. Which points us to the real goal: the day of his return.

Only then will we really live. Because only then will we get Him fully. Times of refreshing come from His presence, because in His presence is full life, because HE is life. We clear away idols for the same reason we have windshield wipers: to see the path, to life. He is glorified, and we are purified, as we delight in that day.