This post probably needs to be titled, “How to be Free of Idolatry of People,” but the current one certainly applies. I heard Martha say, in her Leave Thy Parents audio series (again while swimming in the pool – hehehe), that we can remain tied to our parents when we fail to deal with the idolatry that desires our parent’s love. Sure, we can do the work of separating from our parents (in part), but until we deal with the actual tie, which is our idolatry, we’ll still seek their love. This seeking can target our parents directly, but more likely is transferred to others in our life. Pastors, bosses, spouses, friends, siblings, or maybe the random person you see at the bus stop each day—if our core idolatry isn’t dealt with, we’ll be locked in a cycle emanating from idolatry of parents.
“You must give up the idolatry that wanted their approval.”
No More Idolatry of Parents
I thought that was a really fascinating revelation. You can give up the original source of your idolatry of parents, but until you deal with the heart of your idolatry, you will not be free. It’s so common to believe that you can just leave your parents and then you can be free of them, but Martha’s teaching proves the fallacy of this belief. And it makes perfect sense! I don’t blame my food as being the source of my gluttony. My gluttony is sourced in my heart; food is just the focus of my idolatry. It’s my idolatry that must be addressed, not the object of my idolatry.
Idolatry is a tricky one. Remember, in my recent post, our hearts will worship, because we’re all created to be worshipers. The bastardization of worship is idolatry. So the Holy Spirit must deal with my heart’s idolatry for me to be actually free. I can give up one source of idolatry and simply trade it for another. The alcoholic who gives up alcohol can then become a workaholic. The meth head who gives up meth can then become a video game junkie. Idolatry is seeking something other than God. This can be a parent’s love, sex, work, food, drugs, alcohol, entertainment, relationships…the list goes on and on.
Idolatry of Parents: The Root
Idolatry is a given. If you aren’t worshiping God you are in idolatry of something. But one of the many amazing points Martha made in this teaching is that my parent may no longer be the actual source of my idolatry. And until I deal with the root, I will not be free. It wasn’t my parent that I had idolatry of; it was their love that I sought. And by pursuing any Tom, Dick or Sally, I can continue in that idolatry.
If we have an idolatry of being loved (and let’s be honest, which one of us doesn’t?), then like a guided missile, we’ll seek it out. “They didn’t give it to me; I will get it from my spouse. She didn’t give it to me; I will find it in the approval of my pastor. That didn’t produce it, how about this huge case of Oreos?” Remember, worshipers worship and we’re all created to worship. When the Holy Spirit deals with us on the issue of our parents, we may discover that the reason we still have issues with them is because the core of our idolatry was never addressed. It may not be the person at all but what we sought from them instead.
Idolatry of Parents & God My Shepherd
Martha gives an example of this where she describes someone who was looking to the church to be their father. Their daddy had passed but they still looked to those in the church to give them the love they desired. It was a perfect fail! They received hatred instead of love. And why? Because we have a jealous God who is faithful to correct our wayward seeking. His shepherding is perfect and often stringent to save our hearts from idolatry.
Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.
Jonah 2:8 ESV
Amen, John. And that’s why Jesus is so liberating. He can receive my worship and live up to the standard of that worship. He can receive my adoration and not being puffed up by it. He can receive my love and He is still undisputed King in the throne, source of all love and good thing, freely offering it to the receiver. I will worship Him… but He will never ever buy my stuff! That makes out of Him the most precious and worthy Being of the Universe. And your example is so spot on… I don’t blame my food… Read more »