Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Idolatry?

Eva attended church as a child and young woman, but had never made a personal commitment to follow Christ. One Sunday morning, Eva Jackson came forward to receive Christ as her Savior. It was springtime that first year, and new life emerged from a spiritual winter. Eva became our pianist, was absolutely faithful, and is now home with the Lord.

Soon after Eva trusted Christ, she brought the well known picture of Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemene to place on the wall. She wanted our garage-turned-chapel to be more like the sanctuary she grew up in.

That picture created the first disruption in our little Fellowship.

"Idolatry! That's what that picture is." Those were the first words that came through his bushy red beard. To say the least, I was taken aback.

I believe my first response was, "Explain?"

"Thou shalt have no graven images!" I was told. I still had no idea what he was talking about and told him so.

"That picture is idolatry!" he insisted.

"It is a picture. A reminder that Christ was a man of prayer," I said, as I pointed to the wall where the picture hung.

"No, it's idolatry!" Now his arms were folded across his chest. Not once did he make eye contact with me.

"Did you pray before you came to your conclusion about the picture?" I asked.

"It's idolatry!" I heard once again.

Obviously, the conversation got no where. Exasperated, I walked over to the wall and removed the picture. I then went to Eva and explained my capitulation. She was a much bigger person than both the one who threw the fit and me; she never pressed the issue.

I had just made a major mistake. What was the mistake? I gave in to a church bully and his meanness.

I also learned something. In most instances, this type of person will continue to find reasons to disrupt the fellowship, and the shepherd not only goes after lost sheep -- he also protects them from wolves and weirdness. I had several more run-ins with the same man. It got a little ugly the last time. . . I fought back! No, it didn't become a boxing or wrestling match. I just decided I wouldn't become the coward of "The County." There are times when you have to stand up to disruptive people.

Idolatry is putting anything ahead of God -- even your fears and "peace at any cost." When I look back at that first confrontation, I realize that my compromise with fear was a subtle form of idolatry -- I bowed to it -- it became my master.

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