You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:39-47 NASB, emphasis mine)
Okay, I usually don’t introduce my posts with a Scripture passage. But when I read this recently, it caught my attention, even though I think Jesus was directing this at nonbelievers. Still, verse 45 hit my heart with a heavy thud and convicted me of several serious sins in my life.
In Other Words…Idolatry
I know that I’ve been placing so many people and things over Jesus. Not all of these people and things are bad. In fact, several of them are good! However, I believe God has convicted me that, deep down in my soul, I treasure these more than Him.
Yes, I still know Him. Yes, I still love Him. Yes, I still belong to Him.
But I’ve been chasing my fleshly desires. I’ve been wanting more, claiming to need more, and being willing to let something—sometimes anything—take His place. For me, this has been:
Paige*, in whom I have set my hope.
Sean*, in whom I have set my hope.
The latest news, in which I have set my hope.
Inappropriate images, in which I have set my hope.
Inappropriate websites, in which I have set my hope.
As I often say in my posts, the list goes on.
This is the part where I crumple up in a ball and die of embarrassment. You now know how I’ve been spending my life—placing my hope in people and things besides the One I claim is my Lord. The truth is out there.
I have a feeling that maybe—if you let yourself admit it—you’re also placing someone or something above the One you claim is your Lord.
Maybe it’s that ministry you’ve been pouring your heart into for years…but you feel God telling you that it’s time to move on. And you don’t think you’re ready to let it go.
Maybe it’s that darling boyfriend with the gorgeous smile and constant attention…but you realize you’ve given him too much of your time. And you hate the idea of being with him less often.
Maybe it’s that career opportunity you’ve been dreaming about since childhood…but you think the Holy Spirit is telling you to stay where you are. And you worry what will happen if you don’t go.
Maybe it’s that best friend who’s always there for you…but you know she wants to follow God’s calling overseas. And you want to cry every time you think about her moving.
Maybe the person or thing that you’ve been placing your hope in is a little dirtier. The secret lover at work that your husband doesn’t know about. The undereating and over-exercising that you’ve been trying to hide from your parents. The porn websites that you visit when everyone else is asleep. The sexy clothes you enjoy wearing around your guy “friends.” The alcohol you consume to numb the pain of work and family life.
Not an Easy Answer
As believers, we know the right answers: Only Jesus satisfies, worldly things can’t make us happy, and sin has consequences. So why do we—knowing the right answers—continue to put everything besides Jesus over Jesus?
Unfortunately, we often create a “How to Love Jesus More” to-do list for ourselves, rather than admitting the real problem: we still have a sin nature. Yes, even Christians who seem to do all the right things still have a sin nature.
Trust me, I’m not trying to excuse the sin in my life or your life. We do need to repent of the idolatry in our lives. However, we shouldn’t be confused when we choose other people and things above Jesus. Our fleshly desires are real and active, no matter how “spiritual” we think we are.
Friends, we placed our hope in Jesus when we asked Him to be our Savior. Sometimes, we put our hope in others. We’re going to face (and probably give into) that temptation because being a Christian doesn’t make us invincible. It makes us forgiven because God forgives. Don’t be afraid to ask Him for that forgiveness now.
*Names have been changed.