I wrote previously on grace, stating that I have a hard time believing in it. That’s true, but still not quite accurate. I believe in God’s grace – including his grace toward me. It’s all encompassing and all surpassing. However I think that, just as Jesus’ parable of the sower relates, that reception of grace is so often stolen away or starved by lack of nourishment.
The third chapter in Keller’s book deals with idolatry, the “sin beneath the sin”. It’s common to see material things as idols (cars, home, money), as well as work, power, all those things. Keller makes a wonderful point though, that an idol is anything that we pursue more than God’s grace. And that thing that we pursue might not be something that we love, it might be something that we fear. He notes that we are driven not just our dreams, but even more so by our nightmares.
And that gave me pause – there are many things that I love, but how many more things that I fear! I’m the type of personality that tends to be anxious and depressed a good deal of the time. In the Old Testament era especially, we see so many gods and goddesses around. These gods were worshiped not for love but to either get something (based on fear of not getting something, like rain) or not get something (like plague). The Israelites inevitably returned to the foreign gods not out of love or merely out of cultural blending, but I think out of fear. The fear that God would hold back or punish. So they kept their options open, just like I do.
But I don’t run to a wooden idol, I run to the idol of myself – my own actions, my own work, my own need to do good and be good. I don’t see this as pride, as one of my friends likes to call it. It doesn’t feel prideful. It feels afraid.
Perfect love casts out all fear…
and off to do a funeral!