Where Do Our Affections Lie?
The great revivalist preacher, Jonathan Edwards, spoke of religion in terms of our affections – that part of us that orients our mind, will and emotions towards an object. Sin has caused our affections to stray, to focus on other things, anything other than God. Author Alfred Adler says we usually are drawn toward something related to control, or power or comfort or approval. We obsess over these things, comfort ourselves with them and fantasize about them. Biblically speaking they become idols in our lives.
I wonder how much of our recent lack of neighbor-loving dialogue over racial, social, economic and political issues, is really our need for control, power, comfort or approval. A need that finds fulfillment as we obsess over and find comfort in our racial or social group and our political or economic ideology. We love the comfort and control of being right and the power and approval of those who agree with us. But without an honest and graceful conversation with those who differ with us we can become blinded to our idol worship.
Pastor Tim Keller says “worship is pulling our affections off our idols and putting them on God.” It is seeing God for who He is, pondering His worth, treasuring Him and then doing something about it. Through creation, scripture reading, exhortation and sermons we are shown what God is worth. We respond to God’s worth through our praises, prayers of confession and thanksgiving and the giving of our time, talent and treasures to the advancement of God’s Kingdom and the common good of our neighbors. It is in loving those neighbors, even those who disagree with us, that we are helped further to identify our cultural and ideological idols.
Every Sunday’s worship should lead us to Monday’s work of neighbor loving. Loving God and loving our neighbor – there is a reason Jesus called them the two greatest commandments – they pull our affections off our idols and put them back on God.