One section of First Corinthians seems especially fitting for these times. In Chapter 10, Paul muses about idolatry—and the temptations to yield to its influences. His examples come from the times when the Children of Israel set up idols—e.g., the golden calf fashioned for worship when Moses didn’t come back from Mt. Sinai. According to Paul, these idolatries were punished in various ways. His take on the matter: “Even if you think you can stand up to temptation, be careful not to fall. You are tempted in the same way that everyone else is tempted…. (God) will show you how to escape from your temptations.” (1 Corinthians 10:12 CEV)
As I think about what’s whirling around in my head—mostly my emotions—it’s obvious that some idolatries are creeping in. Welcome or not, those temptations gather inside my soul, appealing to me in ways that I may not easily recognize. However I name my COVID-related mindsets, they’re possibly idolatries—supposedly God-like or godly thoughts and actions that actually shove aside the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Trusting in myself more than I should. Pretending I’m not vulnerable to the physical or economic impact of this pandemic. Despairing as a default attitude.
My specific idolatries attract around them other personal character traits that aren’t centered on God’s providence, Christ’s loving example or the Spirit’s sometimes-surprising inspiration. So it’s possible that I am lurching towards self-inflicted punishments not dissimilar to what my spiritual forebears experienced.
What to do? Be watchful, be careful. Stay centered on God’s grace, God’s invitations. And look for the spiritual windows and doors that let God’s escape instructions shine through.
This seems more sensible and possible than giving in to idolatries of any kind.
Especially the ones I create….