So, it has been a minute since the last post, I've got some catching up to do.
We last talked about the idea of gods at war over the throne of our hearts. Then, we followed that by talking about the temple of pleasure. Today we will continue to look into those gods by examining the temple of power.
Within the temple of power, there are yet again three gods: the gods of success, money, and achievement.
The god of success is a tricky one to talk about. This is because we tend to define success differently person-to-person and success is something that isn't inherently sinful. For some of us, success is how much $$$ we have in the bank, for other's it is getting a new car, new job, new house, etc. Then, for some, it's really about being known, about creating an image or a brand. When these are the measures of success then we have failed. But, the god of success is so good at getting us to look at these as measures because they all target the same piece of us, pride. Of all the tool success could use, it uses pride. The god of success knows that we fall prey to our own pride so easily. So, the cost may look steep, but the payout will fulfill our pride, so we go at it. Success becomes our drive, we work longer hours, we extend our workweek, we give up family time, we miss important dates, etc. All to be successful, all to fulfill the itch inside: our pride.
One of the hardest parts of dealing with the god of success is that success is good. In fact, God wants us to be successful, to be blessed. But, when we serve the god of success it becomes less about what God wants and more about what I want. WE define success, WE build the empire, WE get it done. That is not how God defines success. If we look at Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Success according to God is being poor in spirit... This feels so contrary to everything we've grown up with. I was always told to be successful is to have the mindset of "I've got this" or "Pull yourself up by your bootstraps". The idea was always, success becomes success when I do it on my own. But God says, "Nah dog, you can't do it alone" and when we look at Matthew 5:3, we see that we aren't supposed to do it alone and we actually reap the benefits of success when we admit, "God I need you." That's what is meant by "poor in spirit", not poverty, but the inability to do it alone (which is true of all of us).
So, this is how we deconstruct the god of success. We define success as God defines it. Nothing of my own works, but God through me. This is success. To empty oneself and allow God to be the answer, not ourselves.
The second god in the temple of power is money. This god is quite hard to talk about. Money may not be evil, but it is the root of much evil. Many people hear something like this and go, "well I need money to survive, so ____ doesn't know what they are talking about..." If this is something you've thought, then you may be serving the god of money. We use the ideas that there is nothing inherently wrong with money and that it is necessary for life as a safety net of excuses so we can continue to serve this god. When this is the god we choose to serve we lose the need for God, instead we rely on our own ability to provide, which inevitably will fail us.
When we serve the god of money life becomes about one thing, where do I fall on the totem pole. You may never be Bill Gates rich, but how close can we get? We fall prey to the mentality, "If I can just get X in my bank account, then my worries will fade." Except you achieve X and it is still not enough, so then we define a bigger amount and then a bigger amount and so on. The quest consumes us and we do it in the name of provision. I must be able to provide and this makes is feel like a noble quest, but it has never been our job to provide for ourselves, to build a safety net of cash. Instead, we are supposed to work hard and rely on God.
During the sermon on the mount, as told by Matthew, Jesus actually addresses the issue of money. In Matthew 6:24 Jesus says, "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." Jesus comes at money head-on. God knew that a major struggle for His people was the all-consuming $. So, He called is what it is, a master or a god. You can't serve both and when we choose money we will always be chasing more and it will never be enough. Money may be able to satisfy physical needs, but never what our heart cries out for. So, in the end, we will feel empty.
So, how do we deconstruct the god of money? We ask ourselves the hard question, "do our financial goals chase God, or is it about the $?" If the answer is about the money, then it's time for repentance and change.
If you're anything like we you're probably thinking "But aren't success and achievement like the same thing?". Well, they aren't, they are close, but you chase different thing with this specific god. When we serve the god of achievement we chase the checkmark in a box. It's all about accomplishing tasks and being recognized for getting it done. People who serve this god are often referred to as overachievers or top talent. This is because they want to get all the tasks done and be recognized for doing whatever it takes to get the job done. This god is dangerous because we have been told to do exactly that. Do whatever it takes to get our grades up, to get the promotion, to have financial peace, etc. This god targets our desires and is instilled in so many of us from a young age. The American Dream is accomplished by checking off the boxes.
As we serve this god our life philosophy begins to feed the idea of doing anything to get the job done. We end up saying things that sound true like, "the ends justify the means" or "Bad things are fine when they are done to accomplish something good." This is a bad philosophy. Do you think God ever gives into something evil to accomplish good? No, in fact, He removes Himself from sin.
When the god of achievement is in charge we can't breathe. We feel the weight of the world upon on shoulders. We have to keep getting things done, otherwise, our family, friends, bosses, etc might think we won't actually keep checking the boxes.
To deconstruct the god of achievement we must spend time with God. Not like a task, it's not about checking off the devotions box or the prayer box. Instead, we look to God to fill us. We ask for Him to help us go through the day and to guide us in how we go about getting things done. We change the language from doing anything to what God allows or requires. We take the pressure off of us and lean on God.
The gods within the temple of power all really target one area of ourselves, our pride. They feed our pride and give us a complex of "I". I am successful, people know my name. I provide for myself and family, my bank account supplies my need. I can do all things through myself, my tasks take priority and nothing will stop me from completing them. We become obsessed with being self-sufficient, worry-free, and "to-done". All of this feeds our pride. We may be able to convince others that we serve God by giving Him lip service and saying, "To God be the glory" while our hearts say, "I did ___ by my own strength."
Paul gives us the language to destroy this temple in 2 Corinthians 4:18 when he says, "as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." When we have God at the center we must look to Him and what He provides and not what we can provide for ourselves. Only through leaning on God can we truly become successful, be okay financially, and achieve anything.