What Do We Do With Idols?
I stated in my last post that many believers have idols in their lives that they’re not aware of. We uncover these idols when we notice that we’re trusting something else more than God. One big idol that’s currently wreaking havoc with our faith is politics (read more in part 1). How should we respond once we uncover political idolatry in our lives?
The first step after acknowledging the belief or faith we have in (formerly hidden) idols is to repent. Ezekiel 14:6 says, “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations” (ESV).
Like any and all sin, we need to:
Acknowledge the sin
Repent and turn away from it
If you’ve recognized these tendencies to idolatry in yourself, take some time with God to acknowledge and repent of it. Declare your desire to put your trust fully in God, and not in earthly plans and powers.
Faith for the World
It’s important to respond in repentance and receive God’s forgiveness after uncovering idolatry. But what’s next? How can we move beyond personal repentance and live in ways that impact the culture around us?
One thing to do is to venture into some practices of prayer—ways of praying that you might not have explored before. These prayer practices have great potential to affect our communities and nations.
Prayer Practice #1: Pray in the Opposite Spirit
The first thing is to recognize that belief in an idol usually comes from somewhere. There's usually something within us that is driving that practice or behavior.
With political idols, the thing driving it may be fear—fear of what will happen if the wrong political party gains power. It may be lack of faith in God: or another way to put it, believing the lie that God can't solve this political issue.
Once we have an idea of the source of the problem, we can start to move in the opposite spirit of what’s contributing to the emotion. In this case, where fear and lack of faith might be at the root, moving in the opposite spirit means living like Jesus actually has been given all authority, like he said. Start to pray bold prayers acknowledging that all authority in heaven AND earth has been given to Jesus (Matthew 28:18) and that God has a plan for our countries, towns, and neighborhoods.
Prayer Practice #2: Repent on Behalf of the Group
This may be the bit that's new to you. One of the historically and biblically powerful ways Christians bring change to their communities and nations is to repent, not just on behalf of themselves, but also the groups they are a part of.
This repentance is seen in many parts of the Bible, but here are a few verses:
On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads. Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors. They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshipping the Lord their God. Nehemiah 9:1-3
We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. Daniel 9:8
Corporate repentance is one of our roles as priests before God (1 Peter 2:5). Historically, in periods of revival and awakening we see groups of people moving into travailing prayer, prayers marked by grief, groanings, and tears over things contrary to the heart of God. Repentance has long been connected to revival and awakening. If you desire your country or community to become more godly, cry out to God. Intercede, lament, and repent on behalf of the group—especially for those who aren’t yet repentant.
Prayer Practice #3: Let the Concern of the Moment Lead You to Repentance
When you come across something in your culture, nation, or even neighborhood that concerns you, instead of moving into anxiety or anger about it, why don't you move into identificational repentance instead?
What I mean by that is repenting on behalf of the group and asking for God's mercy, forgiveness and change.
Let's say you're walking down your street and you see a store selling something you think is destructive or immoral. Instead of getting angry and thinking that the government should do something, instead of feeling powerless and wanting to move to a new country, why not move into prayer?
Maybe start by worshipping God as the all-powerful, all-good God, who is full of mercy. Then repent on behalf of the people of that neighborhood, of which you are a part. Invite his mercy and forgiveness. Ask him to change the neighborhood and to show you what your part is in his plan for change.
Similarly, when you see something on the national scale that you feel angry or scared about—it could be a new law you think is really wrong, or a leader you're scared of getting into office—start out by worshipping the God who is control. Then repent on behalf of your community or nation for the behavior you find so appalling. Ask for God's mercy, but also his grace for change to occur. You could ask him to raise up a leader to bring the necessary change.
Prayer Practice #4: Pray for Gospel Movements
I've started to realize that the gospel message is a much more central need for our countries than one particular political view. It will be as the gospel penetrates society that we see the nations we belong to and love becoming more like the places God has always intended them to be.
If we can share the gospel effectively, and get people to read the Bible and do what it says, they will naturally change their political views toward ones that are more godly.
Think about how you can help activate a gospel movement in your community and nation. Ask God what your role might be in bringing the transformation of the gospel to your area. He may call you specifically into prayer, or may give you opportunities to engage actively with others in sharing his message.
Jesus is where our true hope lies, not in governments or policies. It is time to place our trust in God—both in politics and in every other sphere of life—and look to him to bring the transformation we so desperately need.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Colin Crawley and his wife C’havala live in London, England. They work with CRM-UK to mobilize the Church and catalyze movements of the gospel.