You might think Game of Thrones is an original work of modern pop culture. Nope. It’s the oldest story ever. Sorry. Nothing new under the sun, right?
There was a throne (even before there were people), and when Satan failed miserably at seizing it for himself, he helped us erect a host of thrones to mock the One True King.
Every human heart holds its own personal throne room. God sits exalted in some cases, recognized and worshiped for His goodness. But most of us—even in the church—either split the throne between multiple rulers or have some kind of rotation going (this month, I get the throne, but since taxes are due next month, financial security will have its chance, and then romance can have a go, and after that...). It’s like the headmaster’s office at Hogwarts: sure, there’s someone in charge, but all of the past headmasters, long dead and gone, have portraits that voice their own opinions about current circumstances and can weigh in on decisions.
Scripture calls this oldest version of Game of Thrones idolatry. While the Old Testament is full of pagan gods wrongly receiving worship, we’ve morphed idolatry into a much more sophisticated system. Rather than spinning prayer wheels, we play the lottery for a chance that our god might save. Instead of massive temples to Greek or Roman deities, we build sports stadiums and shopping malls. Don’t think that just because we don’t physically bow down and cry out to statues, we’re free and clear of idolatry.
Power. Money. Relationships. Control. Stuff. Beauty. Fame. Security. Respect. Comfort. There are tons of options Americans flock to regularly. It’s on us to figure out what we’re approaching as functional saviors and to disown those thrones, to take their portraits off the wall and chuck them out on the street (or into the bonfire if you’re a pyro like me).
Here’s a list of questions I gathered from Kyle Idleman’s Gods at War book on modern idols to help identify where you struggle:
- What do you pursue? Create? Sacrifice for?
- What do you search google for? Complain about? Fear losing?
- What do you spend time on? Spend money on?
- What do you daydream about? Think about last at night and first in the morning?
- What disappoints you? Worries you? Infuriates you?
- What serves as your sanctuary?
- What did your parents worship?
- What have you worshiped in the past?
- What area is God withholding His blessing from?
- What are the chairs of your heart aligned around (like a TV in the living room)?
It’s not easy dethroning the false sovereigns in our hearts (especially when we’re the ones ruling), but it’s the only way we can do life God’s way. Think of it like this: if you’d been happily married for ten years but found out your spouse has been secretly housing an old ex in the back room the whole time, would you ignore that fact? Knowing that there’s no exclusive commitment of love to you changes things, right? God is crazy about us, but He’s not crazy about sharing us with our old love interests. Exodus 34:14 names God “Jealous” for His people.
Looking for the “little s saviors” isn’t a lot of fun, I’ll admit. But the only Ruler who has ever died for us, bleeding love and pouring out mercy for our souls, needs us to be wholly His. And we need ourselves to be wholly His—splitting our affections is not the way to experience abundant life. It’s not like doing things God’s way has no benefits for us. We were created to fall at His feet alone. When we can do this with joy and freedom and spiritual purity, we come home.
As we kick off the fall cleaning season, let’s not forget our hearts, huh?