Lately, God has been showing me a lot about where I’ve fallen. I thought it was just that I was depressed. Maybe I just had anxiety issues. Maybe it was my husband’s fault since he keeps complaining about where we are. Maybe a new job for him would help. Maybe a better salary. Maybe a better house.
Maybe, maybe, maybe…
No. Not even close. No matter how hard I tried or what I tried to do in my own power, nothing seemed to change. Sure, I may work a little harder on the house for a few weeks or even focus my attention on my kids for a couple of days. It all seemed wasted. Still.
My issues, my problems? They were and always have been issues of the heart. God makes it pretty clear: out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. And just trying to change my actions without changing my heart? My mindset? It doesn’t work out for very long.
He doesn’t leave us where we are, and when He does lead us, He leads us graciously and gently.
He showed me last week that I have been guilty of breaking the very first commandment: You shall have no other gods before Me. At first, I was indignant. How could I have broken THAT one? The FIRST one? I have never been one to put sports, friends, reputation, or even academics before God, at least not for long. So HOW did I miss something this big??
Before I go into details, let me say that I have a feeling that many Christians have fallen into the same lie. I don’t think it’s limited to just me and my husband, who has also admitted that he has broken this commandment in this way far too many times. And it’s not a lie that I was able to see in myself or anyone until God showed it to me. That’s the crucial part: I did not read enough books, hear enough sermons, or study my Bible enough to be able to see this lie for what it is. I am also still realizing just how deeply it has affected my relationships, my view of life, and my walk with God. I say this because I want you to know that I don’t have all of the answers, but I’m willing to look hard to find them.
Guys, I have been guilty of making the Church my god.
Let me be clear: it was never taught to me, never expected, never demanded. Except that it was. Except for the unspoken rule that the Church demands much and is never satisfied. Except for the expectations that once achieved were met with accolades and applause.
Can you guess how this left me? Feeling hurt, betrayed, neglected, and angry. My god was never satisfied with me as an adult, and I feared it never would be. When I wasn’t enough, I became anxious and depressed, and I hated to rock the boat. When I felt betrayed, the anger and hurt were made worse simply because I my god wasn’t stepping up in the ways I thought it should. And God? I saw Him as an addition to Church, even though I didn’t see it that way. I knew God outside of Church, but I didn’t know Church outside of God. And in a crazy, mixed-up way, that became very important.
There are probably a million little reasons why Church became my god. From my dad being in ministry since I was two to deciding to marry a minister myself, there have been many ways that my view of Church was skewed. I do not hold anyone responsible for these actions, though, because they have been so prevalent in my life. I also realize that had God not shown this to me Himself, I never would have known this was even a problem. I’m not interested in slamming the Church or the culture that created this issue. God Himself could have prevented me from falling into this sin, but in His grace and mercy He didn’t. I am, however, interested in rebuilding my viewpoint of the Church and my relationship with those in the Church. I believe that the Church is still worth loving, still worth fighting for, and still worth the demands, as long as those demands, those things necessary to life within the Church, are from God and God alone.
You can read more about breaking the fourth commandment here. Do you think you have followed a Church-god? Why or why not? And, just for curiosity’s sake, do you think this is something that is more prevalent in the “Bible belt” or can it be said of American Christians as a whole?