“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” Psalm 62:5
I am now single. That was excruciating to say after over thirty-five years. Worse, I’m a widower. I was Kim’s husband. I was a married man. No more. A huge part of my identity has been changed in an instant. One moment, I’m a blissfully married man. The next moment, I’m a single man, and thirty-five years of identity is altered.
I came face-to-face with the idolatry of identity.
“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” 1 Corinthians 10:14
I wrote this entry some eighteen months ago. I had no idea my dad would join me on this unwanted journey the very week I released this entry from my journal. Fallout from the fall continues its march. This week, after nearly sixty-four years of blissful—and I do mean blissful—marriage, he lost his wife, my mother.
How easy it is for me—or any of us—to put hope in any other identity. Our jobs, our children, our family, our degrees, or our talents can be given more importance than is appropriate. A girlfriend, a boyfriend, or a spouse can take the place of God. Yes, anything or anyone can become an idol.
“For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens.” Psalm 96:5
“When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you! The wind will carry them all off, a breath will take them away.” Isaiah 57:13
Like idols of old, anything that we embrace as a substitute for God in our lives will disappoint us. Our hope should be in God and in God alone. He alone is worthy of such honor and trust from us. Further, this tension is about worship. Do I worship the creature? R. C. Sproul has rightly warned us: “To worship the creature instead of the Creator is the essence of idolatry.”
“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” Psalm 39:7
Our hope is in God; it is not in any other would-be idol. Nothing in our lives is worthy of being elevated to such a level of worship. I must refuse to be deceived, tricked, or tempted. Anything or anyone taking the place on the throne of God is an idol. We are to have no image ahead of God in our hearts.
“You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God…” Exodus 20:5
God is a jealous God, and he will not allow any god before him in our hearts. No other idol can be substituted for the worth of our God.
There are no other messiahs offering redemption but our God. No good things—job, spouse, children, gifts, skills, or possessions—can take that honored place in our lives. We place our faith in Christ, not in any other gift in our lives.
“…for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” Galatians 3:26
I am a child of God. I am a creation of God. My identity is in him. My identity is not in any other aspect of my temporal life.
I must strip away the idol of identity.
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:13