I was asked to teach an intensive course at a seminary, three eight-hour days of presentation. During the first hour my agenda was to introduce the idea that we are all idolaters. I began by saying, “One hundred percent of your pastoral counseling will involve identifying and confronting idols.” Immediately the push back began: “Idolatry is a primitive idea”; “People don’t have idols; they have issues.” As long as we ignore what the Bible says about the human heart and what God desires from his people, we will raise these same objections. The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9)He goes on to say that the root of idolatry is pride:
Pride is seen as detestable to God precisely because it steals from God’s glory and his preeminence. Pride is rebellion, but it is much more than rebellion against God’s authority. Pride is self-centeredness rather than God-centeredness. A proud heart sees itself as central and God as the one who must find his place of orbit in the proud heart’s universe. While few people who call themselves Christians would admit to such a self-centered worldview, I find my weeks filled with people with questions and comments such as these:The whole thing is well worth the time to read. Over the past two years I have really come to see the nature and power of idolatry in my life and in people in general. We need more emphasis on confronting idols with the power of the gospel.
How can God be loving and let this bad thing happen to me?
I can’t believe in a God who let’s bad things happen.
I don’t care what the Bible says; this is what I want.
I have been praying for a Christian husband, and if God wanted me to marry one, then he would have provided one.
If God is against homosexuality, why did he create me this way?
If God wanted me to stay married, he should have told that to my cheating spouse.
Look beyond the content of those objections to the underlying conviction of those who are making them. The objectors believe they have rights and God has the responsibility to work within those rights. To their way of thinking, God can’t love and also do something the objector can’t understand, nor can God call for behavior that is inconvenient or politically incorrect. They believe that God has no right to ask them to opt for grace and forgive another when they have a “biblical” right to hurt someone who has hurt them.
And BTW, Clem's book Disciple: Getting Your Identity From Jesus is a good read.