I’ve done some dumb things. I guess I’m comforted by the fact that others have done dumber things. Like the guy I worked with in the Army who put diesel fuel in a gasoline engine (My happiness that day was in knowing I didn’t do it). The combustion rate for diesel is much lower than gasoline, so the engine gurgled for a long time like it was trying to vomit.
Your spiritual life won’t run right if you fill it with more than one God. I call it mixing theological octane—gasoline and coca-cola. Idolatry is a serious problem, which is why the first of the Ten Commandments says, “You shall have no other gods before me.” It sounds like a husband telling a wife, “You shall have no other men.” In a committed love relationship, this is a reasonable command.
But it’s not just a question of jealousy. It’s also about potency. God was in effect, saying, “I’m about to cut loose on you all the blessings of being My kingdom, My treasure, My priests (Exodus 19:5-6), and the head of all the nations (Deut. 28:13). Don’t dilute the force of those blessings by adding fake gods into the equation. You’ve barely got enough room in your heart for the real God.”
You know when old school idolatry is being committed. Consider the ingredients. There’s a statuette that looks like something from a lawn and garden store. It has a name—Thor or Molech, or some Lord of the Rings-sounding handle. People kneel down in front of it and—presto!—idolatry. It’s dumb.
Yet contemporary American idolatry comes in forms even dumber, such as thinking of myself as God. Silly, you say, because I have trouble doing twenty push-ups. Ridiculous, you say, because it only takes a speck of calcium in my kidney the size of an apple seed to incapacitate me. That doesn’t sound like much of a god. I suppose it makes no sense, but somehow we still manage to assign ourselves the highest priority in every area of life.
John the Baptist nailed it when he said of his relationship to Jesus, “I must decrease, but he must increase” (John 3:30). That’s a great memo to post on the refrigerator. It’s a hard one to live by. We loathe decrease. The famous hate diminishing popularity. The powerful can’t stand decreasing influence.
It’s like my little LED flashlight that shines so well in the dark. Then the sun rises. With each passing minute my flashlight becomes a little less spectacular. By high noon it’s insignificant. I’m bugged. Yet over my head is a hydrogen-helium sphere 865,000 miles in diameter, glowing at one million degrees Kelvin. It has vanquished every bit of darkness. I can’t even make a shadow puppet. Light floods me, where I’m going, and where I’ve come from.
My poor, poor little flashlight.
The truth is, it can’t be both you and Christ on the increase. It’s either going to be your “selfie” running on a couple of double A batteries, or the great Christ in you who “comes on that day to be glorified in His saints, and to be marveled at among all those who have believed” (2 Thes. 1:10).
My advice: don’t worry about that flashlight.