In our culture today, thrones are a bit out-dated. I’ve never seen a real throne and the only ones I have seen are in fantasy movies, Disney animations, or the ones Santa sits on at Christmastime. They looked pretty grand! And the ones sitting on those thrones were meant to be worthy of grandeur and beauty and power—a mighty king, a powerful prince, a radiant queen, a lovely princess. They were the ones who could have your head chopped off with just a word. They ruled with power. So, in your real world today—to whom do you kneel? What has power in your life? Who sits on your throne?
I’m going to stick my neck out and answer for you.
You do. I do. We do.
The self sits on our thrones. And that is the root, the gut, the bottom line with humanity’s struggle with idolatry. Even if we might struggle with a hunger or passion for another person, or something we own, or something we do, it all boils down to…
How we can have what we want, when we want it, and the way we want it.
We all struggle with our own kingdom ruling in our lives.
Have you seen the movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? All the children who won the Wonka Golden Ticket were struggling with their own obsessions: Augustus and food; Mike and his TV; Violet and her gum; and then there was Veruca and her self-righteous, arrogant self. Dear Charlie, whose heart was more golden than the ticket. He didn’t seem to have any idols. But Veruca’s obnoxious selfishness stood out–proud, uncontrolled selfishness. She was on her throne. She was her god. When my self-rule looms, I remember Veruca.
Is God on your throne?
Some of you may be asking, “why should He be? He gave me a clear mind and a passion to succeed.” Atheists definitely would say, “No way! He does not exist.” Others may say, “When I need Him and call out to Him, He’s always there! But, in my every day life, I can usually handle what comes my way.” There may be those who breathlessly answer, “Are you kidding? I don’t have time to even think about thrones. My life is a whirlwind. Kids, work, exercise, home, and making sure I bring home enough money to survive! My schedule is in control!”
If you believe God exists and that He made you, is He on your throne? If you are questioning the importance of this question, please consider this:
“God is the Maker and not the one who was made. God was not created by man; he is the One who makes man and everything else that exists in all the universe. He is the originator of all things…we still see men worshiping themselves, projected to infinite proportions. Man simply thinks of himself and worships that. That is his god…God is not the projection of man; God is greater than man. God originated man. Everything that exists came from his hands. He is the Maker, and not the made…God is the giver, and does not have any needs himself. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” (interview with Dr. Ray Stedman)
We, in this amazing, wonderful country of ours, face the alluring, powerful calling of independence, and freedom, and personal autonomy. We were liberated to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. Right? Oh, how that gets in the way of putting God on our throne! But we began to live for ourselves, and our work, and what we owned. We began to worship whatever made us feel personally significant, because it was our ‘right’. Don’t get me wrong. I firmly value and believe in such a pursuit as long as God is on the throne and is recognized as the giver of such gifts. For me, He is worshiped, adored, and praised for the opportunities afforded me as an American, especially an American woman.
“But it is not too much to say that our radical allegiance to self and independence is idolatrous worship, nor that such worship manifests itself in extravagant offerings of money spent and relationships sacrificed—even the sacrifice of the unborn. And if we worship freedom, we may become the personification of ‘Libertas‘, unable to experience healthy dependence on God and others, even as others find they cannot depend on us. Freedom can ironically enslave us, crippling our service to God and others.” (Brian Rosner, The Concept of Idolatry)
“Healthy dependence”. That phrase caught my eye. If God is reigning in our world, we are free to be who we were made to be. Accepting that can be very liberating. God wants us to live in the midst of life. Relax! God has given us an amazing world to enjoy. To live it to the full. When we succumb to our own pride and selfishness, we are trapped. We are limited. When we claim that our own way is better, we give up what God has to offer us! Gwen Smith, author, songwriter, singer wrote:
“We were created to pursue God. We were created to know God – to be satisfied in Him and Him alone. To worship Him and Him alone. We place our faith in the economy, in our financial situations, in our health, in our employment status, politics, marital status, and our relationships. They are all broken cisterns and were never meant to be our source of hope or satisfaction! When we eliminate the things that clutter our faith – the broken things we trust in – and place our faith in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ, God’s heart swells with mercy, compassion and grace toward us. He forgives and strengthens us. Who or what are you trusting in today?”
If you are reading this and wondering who or what is on your throne, ask yourself these questions.
- Am I preoccupied with my own agenda? (give away: you get irritated or frustrated with others a bit too often)
- Do I trust my own energy, intellect, and initiative to get things done above any others?
- Am I afraid of failure, or lack of recognition, or looking good in the eyes of others?
- Am I frustrated, anxious, resentful, angry if someone doesn’t respond the way I had hoped?
- Is there something or someone I want so much, that I might hurt or disappoint others to have that desire? (if you didn’t have this something or someone, life might be too unbearable—your iphone, your kids, your work, your drink, your home)
I so get how it feels to have myself on my throne. I lived for success and recognition. I hungered to be loved and paid attention to. I manipulated situations to make my world happier. I knew I was bright, capable and full of initiative, so I chose to speak instead of listen. I moved forward with my ideas, because I thought they were pretty darn good. I loved achievement and valued my skills and talents without recognizing that many others around me had a lot to offer me in the way of wisdom and experience. Relationships totally often were controlled by my needs first. Truth was my own perception of truth.
I was raised to be a caring, respectful, open-minded person, so my own self-pursuit wasn’t obnoxious or in your face. Most people who knew me thought I was all that my parents taught me to be. (Thank You God for my parents!) But until I was confronted by the Truth in God’s Word, until I saw Christ as my Lord, until I saw how self-righteous and proud I was, I wasn’t ready to be blessed. Until I said, “You are in control” and not until then did I find freedom to be me, to find amazing joy in being there for others first, and to find unspeakable calm in a very unsettling world. I LOVE God being on my throne!
Isaiah 66: 1 “This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that? Could you build me such a resting place?”
Hebrews 4:15-16 “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
Revelation 7:16-17 “For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”