Taking God’s Place

Knowing Jesus, Part 1

When we talk about idols our thoughts usually turn to ancient times or primitive cultures where they make an image of something from wood, stone, or some kind of metal – and then worship it as a representation of some god.

It’s not generally something we associate with modern cultures.

In 1 John 5:21, most translations tell us to stay away from idols, and it’s easy to read right past it without a second thought.

But, when I read it in the New Living Translation, the version I generally use for my devotional reading, it stopped me in my tracks. John wrote:

Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. (1 John 5:21, NLT)

Here, idol is translated as anything that might take God’s place in your heart.

This is not just some ancient or primitive problem, this is a problem I face every day.

In fact, this is the basic problem every Christian faces.

Does God occupy the top place in my heart, or is there anything I value more than Him?

What do my actions tell me?

  • Is my comfort more important than saying yes when God asks me to help someone who is homeless?
  • Do I get irritated if someone interrupts me?
  • Am I more focused on the American Dream for myself and my family than on helping others meet their basic needs?
  • Am I more like the Sheep in the parable of Matthew 25:31-46 or do the Goats paint a truer picture of how I approach life?

Unfortunately, I find myself in the top place of my heart more than God all too often. How about you?

There is only one solution to this problem, and it’s not trying harder to do better.

It’s getting closer to Jesus!

The only way for God to climb to the top of your priorities – to take the top place in your heart – is to draw closer to Jesus. As you do this, He will be at work in your heart and mind making this incredible promise come true in your life!

“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27, NLT)

This is a promise you can count on. Ask Jesus to make this happen in your life. Keep asking Him day after day. It doesn’t happen overnight, but He will make it happen as you keep drawing closer to Him!

Next week, we’ll explore how this happens and how you can cooperate with Him in this process.