What's On Your List?

January 15, 2013

1 John 5:13-21

"Little children, keep yourself from idols."

Talitha Arnold

What are your idols?

What do you give your time, energy, or homage to?

I realize that's a very personal question. I also know a preacher should never ask such a question without being willing to answer it herself. So here's a (partial) list of my idols:

• wanting to be liked
• not wanting to disappoint
• making sure everyone is happy

That's only the beginning, of course. I have other idols, most having to do with numbers. Church size. Dress size. Articles written. Articles published.

So what's on your list?

Perhaps John's admonishment against idols only included statues of gold or silver. But since the first Christians were people like us, he might have been warning them about our kinds of idols, too.

John's words echo the wisdom of Rev. Dr. Reuben Sheares, one of the saints of the UCC. Twenty-five years ago when he preached at my installation, Reuben reminded us why we come to church every Sunday. "All week long," he said, "we're cajoled and seduced to worship all the little mini-gods of our lives."

Sunday mornings, he affirmed, "we come to remember the one true God."

Making a list of our idols is the first step. Turning them over to the real God is the next. "This is the boldness we have in God," John affirms in his letter, "that if we ask anything according to God's will, God will hear us." For, John concludes, "God is the true God and eternal life."

A footnote to this passage says, "some ancient authorities add "'Amen.'" I know Reuben Sheares would have.

Prayer

Help us, O God, to be honest about the idols—the mini-gods—with which we let ourselves be seduced. Thank you for people in our lives, like Reuben Sheares, who remind us that you alone are the only God worth giving our lives to. Amen.

About the Author
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Worship for Vital Congregations, published by The Pilgrim Press.

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