How to Unseat the Idols of the Heart

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Guy, you need to be captivated by the glory of God – not curious about, interested in, or moved by, but captivated. Why is this condition of spiritual obsession so important? Among other reasons is this: captivation has a unique ability to unseat the idols of the heart.

Most Christian men fail to achieve their potential in Christ, not because they are distracted, but because they are dis-attracted. More than apathy, idolatry is the problem handicapping the growth of men. Through a variety of subtle tactics Christian men are duped into over-estimating the value of finite goods. We are like bidders at an auction who get caught up in the proceedings and end up paying more for a used car than it is worth. Thus, for example, a career becomes more than a paycheck and a way to serve Christ. A career becomes the bedrock of an identity, the only trustworthy path to self-fulfillment.  Sex, or exercise, or comfort, transforms from a limited pleasure to an unquenchable appetite. A little thing becomes the only thing, and men soon find themselves shackled by the chains of their own deep emotions. The problem is not outside of us; the problem is inside of us. This is what makes idolatry so difficult. Having opened wide the gates of the heart, we wake up to the realization that a counterfeit is on the throne, but that we have forfeited the very power that might have resisted him, our love.

Being captivated by the glory of Christ is the secret to mounting a coop against a false god. A lot of men may remember the difficult they felt trying to break up with a toxic girlfriend. The most efficient method of getting over a bad girlfriend is to meet a fantastic girl. Being gripped by something better is always the easiest way to let go of something bad. There is a religious lesson in this. No amount of willpower can shove an idol out of the heart. The reason for this is because the strength of an idol is love, that is, perceived goodness. If I live for success, why do I do this? The reason is because the very image of success captivates my heart. I don’t have to talk myself into wanting success. To see success is to love it, desire it, and to feel myself driven to pursue it. How then does one resist the mystical gravity of love? The key is to catch sight of something incomparably more lovely. If this new object is sufficiently glorious, the glue that has bound the heart to an idol will dissolve and a new seal, to a new object, will be formed. Such is the magic of captivation.

How then does one resist the mystical gravity of love? The key is to catch sight of something incomparably more lovely. If this new object is sufficiently glorious, the glue that has bound the heart to an idol will dissolve and a new seal, to a new object, will be formed. Such is the magic of captivation.

We can now appreciate how captivation is the solution to dis-attraction, one of the deep problems afflicting men. Men live in a world filled with counterfeit gods. Becoming a Christian does not take them out of this world. Just as married men are called to narrow their vision and to invest their sexual passion in a single woman, in spite of the other options around them, Christians are called to narrow their worship and to invest their spiritual devotion in a single god, in spite of the idols around them. The calling is difficult. The only way ultimately to avoid being taken captive by an idol is to be captivated by Christ. Only Christ’s beauty can fortify the heart and insulate it from foreign invasion.