I have been thinking a lot lately about idolatry. I know most of us who believe in God have a tendency to think that this is not something we can fall victim to. We quickly learn to put God first, and that if and when we do everything tends to work out the way it should, even if it may not seem like it is going to.
I think there is a lot more to it than that however. Yes the Bible says we should have no other Gods above our Lord. But it seems like to me that He has a tendency to remove things from our life that we put to much importance on. Addictions, people, things, hobbies, foods, dreams, maybe even our marriages can become objects of idolatry if we allow them. If you were to list out the things in this life that you think that you cannot live without, chances are anything on that list aside from God has taken a place of idolatry in your life.
God is a good nagger. If you dare to ask him to reveal to you the things you should remove from your life because you put too much importance on them and He will tell you. It may already nag at your heart and the back of your mind. God isn’t in this to be your top or most important God, he wants to be your only God. In my experience if God tells me to remove something, he will nag at me until I do, or until he forcefully removes it from my life. Generally speaking its best for everyone if I just listen to begin with.
It is also possible that it isn’t necessary to remove the item, person, or thing from your life. Perhaps it is merely a need to refocus on God and accept that he ultimately has the best plan for you. I certainly am not saying that I think God wants you to remove or neglect your children, your wife, or even your dog from your life without carefully prayerfully considering the situation. However if your children, wife and dog are your top priorities in life then you do need to refocus and ask God for help doing so. Ask him to show you the ways you can put Him first without neglecting those you love.
For example I’ve never wanted to be cremated. My mom was cremated, and it just seemed a little creepy. It wasn’t my choosing. According to my sisters it was my moms wish, though she had never discussed this with me and we were rather close. I think it was more likely to cover up a misdeed, but it is far to late now to investigate that possibility nor does it really matter. In the end God will judge us according to our actions, and if we haven’t turned to him our misdeeds will certainly be dealt with.
One of the main reasons I do not want to be cremated, has more to do with idolatry than anything. As we have had several family members cremated I think my feelings on this our grounded in real probabilities.
When we burry a loved one it is sad, even heart wrenching for most. If we watch them being lowered into the ground, we know and can see very vividly that we have said our last goodbyes, and that we are not going to see them this side of heaven again. We have a place to go when we miss them, were we can cry and reminisce and not be judged by the world while we are there. My father and biological mother were both buried. Granted they were buried in Oklahoma and I live in Pennsylvania I do not often have the opportunity to visit their graves. I do wish they were closer but I don’t think now that so many years have passed that I would visit them much if at all anyways.
When we cremate a loved one, we make it easier for ourselves to hang on to them. We have felt like we said goodbye, but while they are sitting on our mantle we have a tendency to feel like they are still very much with us. We may arrange our homes and decorations to now flatter what is no longer a life. Every time we enter that room in our home we are reminded of the one we lost. We may begin to feel that they were better or more righteous than what was true, (or it may have well been true also), as we constantly honor their memory and presence in our home. If a fire were to break out in our home they would likely be something we would not want to leave behind.
When we cremate someone we allow the possibility that we will never fully grieve or recover from our loss. We create a hole in our hearts that we think cannot be filled every again. Instead of saying goodbye, we may have the tendency to hang on to them, their ashes becoming even more precious than the life they once contained. Instead of letting go and accepting that we may see them again one day, we may obsess over what is no longer there.
This is why I do not want to be cremated. I do not want my ashes to represent anymore than exactly what they are-the dust from which they were formed. I do not want to set my family up to make my life into something more important than it should be. I do not want to set my family up to turn me into an idol in their life.
As we strive to put God first, we need to be aware of the idols in our life that can steal our hearts away from God. The things that we have should be enjoyed, because we cannot take them with us, but ultimately we need to guard our hearts from allowing the enemy to turn them into things that we cannot live without. With God all things are possible, so I know, that even if I lost my children, my home, my dogs and my husband God would provide me with what I needed.
“For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,” Philippians 3:18-20