The evidence that something has usurped the place Jesus ought to have is not how upset I am when I don’t have them. I’d be (rightly) very upset should I no longer have my children, for example. The sign they might have become an idol to me is less my upset if I don’t have them – which is only right and proper if I love them – but the decisions I take to serve them at the expense of the things Christ calls me to do. It is in forsaking the things of Christ in favour of seeking and serving whatever the thing is that I love more than him.
Yesterday my computer decided to go into an endless death loop. A frustrating problem with the tracker pad led to some bigger problems until, eventually, it ended in a cycle of failed attempts to repair itself, rebooting and further failed attempts to load again.
I’m sure you’re not overly bothered about my technological problems nor my luddite tendency to want to smash the computer against the wall when such things set in. But there was a brief period of time – over an hour or two – where I thought it might be curtains.
I wasn’t particularly concerned for my sermons and files. Pretty much all of those exist in the cloud so, unless the internet dies, they’re about as secure as anything can be. Nor was I bothered about our photos and music. They either exist in other formats or are backed up elsewhere. Not much danger of losing all that either.
But I was bothered about two things. First, the thought of having to shell out for a new computer. But second, and probably worse, the time it would take me learning how to use it and organising it to suit my needs. Even when I get a new phone that hasn’t cost me any initial outlay, I hate having to learn how to use it. It’s the time and energy expended faffing around with it I can’t stand.
Some would want to say that my frustration at the possibility of losing all my stuff, or not wanting to shell out or wasting time learning a new machine are all evidences of potential idols in my heart. I’m not sold on that. I mean, sometimes things are just frustrating. Sometimes, things are so important that were you to lose them, shrugging your shoulders and saying, ‘ah well’ almost seem to suggest that you didn’t care about the thing in the first place.