Not Your God #3: Control
Abstract: When we think of idolatry we often imagine scenes of a carved image from the Old Testament or a false religion today. Idolatry seems like an easy sin to detect and stay clear of. But, there is another side of idolatry that is more subtle. Luther’s Small Catechism calls this “secret idolatry.” This doesn’t mean you are bowing down to an idol in the privacy of your home. Rather, it means that something which is not typically looked at as a god has supplanted the importance of the true God in your life. Luther once said, “That upon which you set your heart and put your trust, is in reality your God.” Our “Not Your God” series will examine several modern day “deities” that can wrestle away our hearts quicker than we think.
*Apologies to our readers on the long break between articles. We’ll try to keep this series, and other articles, going regularly.
Control can be a tough thing. We desire it. We strive for it. It feels like we need it. But, very few of us actually have it. How many of you reading this right now are going through something in your life that is driving you crazy because it is beyond your control?
A relationship gone sour?
Stressful job or co-workers?
The list goes on and on.
Enduring through struggles is not idolatry. But, control can be a problem for our lives because it is, by its nature, at odds with faith. Faith is really an attribute of those who do not have control. Think of how Jesus described faith: Luke 18:15-17 And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He might touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. 16 But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.”
What Jesus said was profound. Little children, even infants, are the examples of true members of the kingdom of God. That’s because everything about a little kid’s life involves faith – not only faith in Jesus but simple trust in others. What will a child eat? What will a child wear? Where will a child be safe? They are completely dependent on others for those needs. In other words, they aren’t in control.
This is how we all are, regardless of age, when it comes to faith in Jesus. We are completely dependent on Him. Our souls are fed and nourished by what He provides – His Word. We are protected by His grace (from ourselves) and His power (from Satan). We live with Him as a product of His mercy for us. We are not in control – far from it actually, and thankfully so.
But that doesn’t stop us from wanting control. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not wrong to be on top of your life or to be organized and effective from day to day. That’s great. You don’t have to seek out the most chaotic path in life, either, just to make sure you’re not in too much control. Instead, control becomes a danger when it is more important to us than what God has done – or when we crave control more than we trust by faith. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” Those who are of the faith family of God are led by God. That means faith involves submission to God and obedience to His plan. In practical ways, that means scooting over from the driver’s seat to the passenger side. This can be scary. Letting go of our own control seems counter-intuitive and illogical. But your life is safest when the strongest one is in control. One thing we should all be able to agree on is that we make plenty of mistakes. When I look at my track record I am thankful that God is in control. I shutter to think of where I would be and what life would look like if I was truly on my own. In fact, that’s also how the Bible describes hell – the complete absence of God. People in hell have that kind of control but at an eternal price.
The world may build up this idol in your mind by making you feel like you have to have everything under control. We are told to be popular, to fit in, to look and act certain ways, to conform – all for the false perception of control. See through the mirage. Control is not your God. Jesus is more than sufficient for your life. By faith, He is in control. The sufferings He allows into your life have a purpose. His will is always accomplished in His time. For all of you who are currently experiencing a lack of control, may your Savior offer you something much greater in its place – His comfort.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.