Personally, I have found it hard to recognize the things in my life that control my actions and that guide my thoughts on a daily basis. I think that is also a pretty universal problem for our society. Have we ever really considered what causes fear, withdrawal, and anxiety in our lives? I know I haven’t. At least not until now.
Sitting in the beauty and wonder of the mountains, Nathan Rieger came to us with interesting stories about his experiences within cultures focused on polytheism (that is worshipping multiple gods). I think a lot of our community could vouch for this, that the stories didn’t seem to have much connection to our lives here in North America. But after our second session, he began connecting his experiences to life at home. Have we ever realized that our North American culture actually has many idols?
Standing in a convenience store after returning from Thailand, Nathan shared how he he came to the realization that our culture is definitely not excluded from idolatry. Seeing the face of a supermodel on the cover of a magazine, he realized that people idolize the so called “perfect” image of a woman or man. Body image is a huge idol for many of us. I’m sure you can think of plenty more if you really focus on it. Where many cultures have physical statues of gods and idols, we have more disguised in visible, invisible, heavenly and earthly realms. I was blown away by this realization. We are definitely not exempt from idolatry.
In our last session with Nathan, we were given the opportunity to share with the group our personal idols. The goal behind that being that when you bring inner struggles into the light and speak them out, they suddenly lose power over you. This was so evident for me. Sitting in that circle I felt this uncomfortable gut wrenching feeling that I needed to share mine, but at the same time something was holding me back. The very idol I needed to vocalize was holding me back from speaking it out. But that moment when I did brought unbelievable freedom, and weights from years of suppressing it fell away. Sharing those deep parts of you with a safe community is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Not only does it give you freedom, but it enables others to gain the confidence to speak out their own struggles.
Nathan taught us that there is a positive act of rebellion when it comes to your personal idols. Realizing your idol is definitely a huge step, but after that you need to figure out how you are going to beat it down; how you are going to rebel. For some it’s easy and obvious, for others it may take a while. But when you figure that out, it opens the door to freedom from that idol, and for God to speak truth into that part of you.
We were given a day to use the steps Nathan gave us to work through rebelling against our idols. For me that meant a lot of reflection time — looking back at my past, and dreaming about the future. What might it look like for me to live in freedom? What experiences can I take from my past to help me grow in the future? Having a dedicated time to think through those things and listen to what God has to say about them was a beautiful opportunity. One that I, and certainly many others, will continue to use in our walk through life.
So do I have it all figured out now? No way. That’s a lifelong journey. But I definitely have a good head start. So what’s your act of rebellion? How are you going to positively defy the social standards? It’s a question we need to ask ourselves often. But we must always remember that with God by our side, we can overcome anything.