“But they came to Baal-peor and consecrated themselves to the thing of shame, and became detestable like the thing they loved.” (Hosea 9:10 ESV).
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” 1 Corinthians 3:18
In the last post, we discussed how we need to see God more clearly in order to experience His glory and grace. This post is connected because we rarely stop to think about how our heart really affects our worship. You don’t need to look too far in your own life to see this truth playing out. The things that interest you are the things that mark you. If it is the newest technological wonder, then you will talk about when it is expected to be out and how it will make life better. If it is health and fitness, then you will talk about your latest workout, diet or special shake that will make you healthier. If it is a new business endeavor, then you will tell people about it and how excited you are. If it is a favorite sport or team, then you will know all of their stats and will talk about it all of the time. Whether it’s a new car, relationship, job or activity, what captivates your heart is what drives your life.
This is not a bad thing. We were designed to work, relate and rule so we are just doing what we were designed to do. We can use this basic understanding of life to see how our lives are driven by what we look at and hold dear. Many Christians believe that the Christian life is to be stoic and that we are not to enjoy anything. On the contrary, we need to raise our gaze and see Christ as the greater treasure than anything this world has to offer (Matthew 13:44). Recall the story of the Sirens from Greek mythology. The Sirens were beautiful women with angelic voices. They lured unknowing travelers to their island by their enchanting voices. When Jason went on a journey that took him by their island, He took Orpheus, who played the lyre, with him. As soon as they could begin to hear the Siren’s voices in the distance, Orpheus played a more beautiful tune that drowned out the voices of the Sirens and they successfully sailed past the island. Odysseus, on the other hand, wanted to hear the voices of the Sirens so He ordered his men to plug the ears and tie him to the mast of the boat. He ordered them not to untie him no matter what he did. As they passed the island, he heard the tune and was enchanted, but could not free himself in order to get to the island.
The primary work for us to do is not to build elaborate strategies of tying ourselves to the masts of our boats and plugging our ears with beeswax in order to avoid temptation and sin. There are good things that we should do to build healthy boundaries that help us to avoid temptations that are real in our lives, but the real work is to hear a better tune. The real work is not in making other things less attractive, but in seeing God as increasingly more attractive. The real work is to see clearly because the Creator of all things has called you His own, has forgiven you and has adopted you as His own child. This should cause your soul to sing its own song.
Suffering is a valuable tool that God uses to help us to see more clearly. No one likes suffering, but few Christians have walked through suffering and come out the other side that do not see more clearly and worship God more deeply. Where do you park your hope? Where is your joy found? If your hope and joy are on created things, you will walk a life of profound ups and downs because created things cannot hold the weight of your worship. They cannot provide ultimate soul level satisfaction. The Israelites set their hope on an idol that they thought would provide rain and bountiful harvests, but in the end their lives became debauched and repulsive (Hosea 9:10). Why did this happen? Because whatever we behold in our hearts as ultimate is what transforms us into its image (1 Corinthians 3:18). What are you beholding?
For further reading, see A Letter to an Incomplete, Insecure Teenager – Desiring God.