An accurate working knowledge of the idols of our hearts is essential. I see this played out in my own life and in the lives of others around me. A conflict with my wife spirals hopelessly down what my senior pastor calls “the tunnel of chaos” until the moment God shines a spotlight on my heart: this conflict isn’t who said what. It’s about my idolatrous desire to always be right. The tunnel of chaos begins to dissipate. Repentance can be sought not blindly but intelligently. Knowing our idols is important.
But it’s not the heart of the Christian life. Jesus, the perfect Savior and Redeemer, is at the heart of our faith – not our own idol hunt. Ed Welch, in his blog post “Who Talks About Idols Among Friends?” makes a great point. While the quote is about biblical counseling, it’s equally as applicable to how we do “self-counseling.”
Idolatry isn’t at the heart of biblical counseling, Jesus is. Biblical counseling is not a process of lying in wait for the idols of someone’s heart. It is the application of the good news to everyday life, especially to the stubborn trials and sufferings of life. As such, the death and resurrection of Christ is the one thing that is always in view. It animates all encouragement, wisdom, illumination, trust, love and hope.
Today, what have you thought about, pondered, and given the most mental energy to – your sins, whether expressed outwardly in actions or buried deep in your heart through idolatrous desires? Or your Savior, who has completely atoned for your sins and is perfectly content with His own pace as He unfailingly transforms you into His image? Yes, there is a place for self-examination and consideration of our sins, but never as an end in and of itself. Self-examination or idol-hunts as ends in themselves don’t lead to hope and are dead-ends. Considering Jesus, pondering His work and glorying in it, brings life, joy, and hope. So know your idols – but know your Savior even better!