I have lost count of those who sat across from me devastated by church wounds. Is that you? Something felt off and before you knew it you were silenced, isolated, berated and labeled unteachable. One of the biggest reasons for church wounds is an infiltration of the spirit of idolatry.
Oh yes. Idolatry is still alive and well, ruthlessly tormenting genuine believers. Simply put, idolatry is a counterfeit of the Living God. A distraction, a substitute. The spirit of idolatry seeks to steal worship, distract us from our true mission and drain our time and resources so we do not do what God has purposed. Because it hides within religion, it appears holy. But to those who are in tune with the Spirit of God, there is a friction that rubs the wrong way.
How do you know if idolatry is creeping in? Below is a quick checklist. If you find four or more, ask the Holy Spirit to increase your discernment and give you eyes to see and hears to hear.
Identity & Self-worth
The identity and self-worth of those around you has become tightly bound to the establishment. You will see establishment symbols, car decals, and clothing identifying those who worship at this altar. Leviticus 26:1
TRUTH: Jesus Christ alone gives us our identity in Father God. He made you into a new creation and approved you, therefore in Christ you are worthy. Worthy to speak. Worthy to enter. Worthy to work. 2 Corinthians 10: 17-18
Feeling like an outsider because you don’t fall in line with the approved culture. Leadership may say they value differences of opinion and perspective but speaking and looking different feels unsafe. Psalm 12:2
TRUTH: Jesus chose twelve men from diverse backgrounds. His decision illustrates his value for diversity. Experiences. Opinions. Perspectives. Races. People who love God passionately are called to build bridges. Groupthink is all about control. Diversity is God’s antidote. 1 Corinthians 12
Gifts & Offerings
Collection of gifts and financial offerings for leadership. Presented as “honoring” leadership but used to curry and exchange favor. Idolatry seeks to earn alliances and favors through the giving and receiving of gifts. 2 Kings 5, Judges 8:22-31
TRUTH: As Christians, we are encouraged to give with a cheerful heart, in secret and expecting nothingin return. Not by compulsion but by the leading of the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 9:7
Confusing power with authority. When leadership makes unilateral decisions and others are expected to align without question you have a leader driven by power. Those not in agreement become an enemy to “growth.” You are isolated, often with false accusations made against you. 1 Kings 21: 6-13
TRUTH: Jesus walked in all the power and authority of heaven itself. Yet, even Christ did not lord over his people. He shared with the disciples all the Father was speaking. He included them in his plans. Even now, as he sits on the throne, he intercedes for us and is consistently including and partnering with us. Matt 20:25-28, John 15:14-16
Greeters bouncing around in parking lots twirling signs while announcement videos are packed full of exaggerated voices to pump people up and create energy in the worshippers. Exodus 32:17
TRUTH: The Holy Spirit is full of explosive power and light, miracles and joy, life and freedom. One encounter with the Living God breaks addictions and destroys sickness, restores marriages and families. When religious institutions lack the Spirit of the Living God, they manufacture it with hype. Ephesians 1:17-23
When idolatry is present, the spiritual senses of leadership become dulled. The physical eventually yields to the spiritual. Hearing issues, eyesight issues, nose and sinus issues, speech impediments… physical ailments that do not clear up despite medical attention. Psalm 115:4-8
TRUTH: Our physical senses correlate to our spiritual senses. Our discernment and sensitivity we have to God’s voice. Our ability to hear his voice. “Sniff out” something that is spiritually off. Speak words of knowledge and wisdom. Matthew 13:9-17, 1 Corinthians 12
It’s more subtle today, but idolatry still wants you to sacrifice your family. They ask your children to endure several services so you can serve more. They tell you to pull your children from sports to support the goals of the ministry. Move them a grade to accommodate the mission. Missing recitals and games in the name of ministry. Joshua 6:26, 1 Kings 16:32-34
TRUTH: God gave us the family unit as our first mission field. We are to teach our children, train them up in God’s ways and walk along the road of life with them. They do not come second to our ministry. They are our first ministry. Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Ephesians 5
Healing Church Wounds
Jesus knows all about church wounds and he can to heal the brokenhearted. Maybe you got out years ago and still feel like areas of your life are still held back by your experiences. If that is your story I urge you to seek the Lord for healing and freedom. If you want to schedule an appointment with our team, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We do online appointments and in-person appointments.