I recently came across this excellent little article/blog by a minister of the name of Jim Street in Georgia (co-author of a book reviewed on this site).Addiction V: IdolatryI really started thinking differently about addiction about this time last year when I preached a series of sermons called "Jesus and Money." Our church was struggling a little bit financially at the time and we needed to rev up our giving. As I got into thinking about the sermons, things took a strange twist. I realized the problem was not in giving. The real problem was in idolatry.When I sit down to think a sermon (I don't write them anymore) I first read the text and draw upon whatever resources I have to understand the text. Then, the text takes over.I do not so much interpet the text as the text interprets me.So last year I was sitting down to think about encouraging our folks to give and read the text where Jesus talks about whether we will serve God or Mammon when the text turned on me and said, "Well, Jim what is it with you? God or Mammon?"I saw Mammon. In my mind, he looked a lot like the 2-bit god Baal. He was all bronzed and buffed and a devouring flame burned in his belly. His outstretched hands glowed red with the heat of the fire as he waited to receive whatever I would lay upon them. In exchange for my time and my attention and my wife and my family and my soul and my heart, he would promise me a sense of security and, at least, short-term peace.In exchange for my soul, Mammon would give me himself.I snapped out of it. "Geez, Louise," I thought. "I'm supposed to be thinking about getting folks to give!"That's when it hit me: the problem is not in giving. The problem is that in our hearts we believe that true and lasting peace comes through Mammon.The problem is idolatry. As Jesus noted...we cannot surrender to God that which is already surrendered to Mammon.Addiction is the fruit of idolatry. Addiction is the attempt to secure spiritual ends by material/temporal means. We fall into addictions (whether with a capital "A" or a little "a") when we secure (if only on a delusional and temporary basis) what can only properly be received as a gift.Mammon is an Aramaic word that could be translated as "money" or "possessions." Mammon is stuff, temporal/material stuff. When you get down to it, Mammon is anything that belongs to this material/temporal realm.Mammon is a power. It is not just dumb temporal/material. Mammon seeks our souls.We value stuff. We like it. We want it. We possess it.However, stuff loses its effect on us. That's why we sell in this year's yard sale what we thought we could not live without last year. Mammon provides only short term fixes. (That's why the wonderful Walker Percy could write that we look in our closets that are filled with clothes and say, "I don't have a thing to wear." The stuff in our closets is Mammon drained of life. Those things are no longer things to us.)We constantly need our Mammon fix because it is not just that we value stuff...We believe stuff values us!Our clothes, our look, our image, our houses, our cars, our titles, the person draped on our arms. our friends, our trophies give us value in the world of Mammon.We value stuff because stuff values us. We sell our souls to Mammon and Mammon gives himself to us.And we have such a hard time letting it go...don't we?MammonWe affirm with piety that we have chosen GodBut daily it is mammon that sets our courseAnd shapes our wills.We desire a bountiful eye toward the poor butWe need so much ourselves.We plan and say, "I'll be more charitable tomorrow...But at the moment there is so much I have to buy."We work for our childrenWe say...And watch them sleep our lives awayTo God we give one hour on SundayTo Mammon we give the rest.His web site is: www.jimstreet.typepad.com
The problem is that in our hearts
I lead an Addiction Recovery Ministry at my Church.I strongly believe and teach that "addictions" are a form of Idolatry.We call it a "Worship Disorder"Will you worship the Creature or the Creator?Your passions and un-healthy appetites or God?I don't have time to write about it now, but I'll drop back online later and chat a bit. ;-)
I strongly believe and teach that "addictions" are a form of Idolatry.
Excellent post KingJimmy!!Some great insight...how true of us all. How lovingly we hang on to our possessions. Thank you for that.God Bless,Stephen