Author archives: Mikayla Simpson

Your Heart Was Made For Love

by Mikayla Simpson

October 19, 2021

Deep down, we all want to love people well. We can’t help it. We are made to worship and made to love, but sometimes the way we choose to prioritize our loves isn’t how it was meant to be. Without realizing it, our well-intentioned affection for people or things can turn into idolatry. Idolatry is dangerous because as we worship and love someone or something that cannot fill the wholeness in our hearts, we are left unsatisfied. We feel this emptiness because we are made for more.

Since the Fall of Man, Things Are Not as They Should Be

G. K. Chesterton once said, “When we cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing. We worship anything.” Because we have a sinful nature, we do not worship God as we should. Instead, we seek after the things of the world, expecting them to satisfy us. We open our arms to broken things, expecting them to fill us. As we draw out of these broken wells that “can hold no water,” our thirst remains unquenched (Jer. 2:13). Sometimes, we choose to worship the creature we can touch rather than the Creator who is above. In doing so, we abandon our greatest love (Rom. 1:22-24, Rev. 2:4) and craft gods out of good gifts. At face value, these gifts are not necessarily bad things to love, but our affections become distorted and disordered when God is not our first love.

In Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel with Hidden Idols, Brad Bigney defines an idol as “anything or anyone that captures our hearts, minds, and affections more than God.” Loving isn’t wrong; in fact, God created us with a great capacity to love, but loving anything more than God is idolatrous. This disloyalty flies blatantly in the face of God, saddens Him, and is sin. For He has said, “have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:2). Idols are poor gods that too often take and use us. They don’t treat us well, and they promise pleasure that they can’t deliver on, leaving us guilty, alone, and always wanting more. Bigney puts it well when he says that “sin is what we do when we’re not satisfied in God.” When we become impatient or discontent, we turn to sin, worshiping idols mistakenly believing that they are more reliable than God.

Identifying Personal Idols

Idols are the hidden matters of the heart. To identify these matters of the heart, Bigney offers a few questions to help us identify our idols:

  1. Am I willing to sin to get this?
  2. Am I willing to sin if I think I’m going to lose this?
  3. Do I turn to this as a refuge and comfort instead of going to God?
  4. What are your goals, expectations, and intentions?
  5. What would make you happy?
  6. What do you see as your rights?
  7. What do you fear?
  8. When you are pressured or tense, where do you turn?

It can be tempting to rely on our own understanding because there is a way that seems right to us but is actually very wrong (Prov. 14:12). That’s why we need the Lord—who searches out the heart and tests the mind (Jer. 17:10)—to weigh our hearts and direct our steps (Prov. 16:9, 21:2).

Ask the Lord to show you your sin, then let His Word reveal the hidden matters of your heart. Inviting Him into this gutting process will expose and dethrone the idols in your life. Let this intimate surgery carve out the festering loves that keep you from drawing closer to God. Press His words into the hollow places that these idols leave behind. Let the words pierce you. Let them fill you. Allow God’s Word to dwell in you richly. He is the One who gives us a new heart and a new spirit (Ezk. 11:19). Bigney encourages his readers engaging in this soulful surgery to remember to “glance at your heart but gaze at Christ.” We should examine the chasms and crevices of our hearts but ultimately set our eyes on Christ to renew our hearts.

We Only Fulfill Our Purpose When We Worship God

Apart from God, we will never be satisfied. The fourth-century theologian Augustine correctly observed, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they can find their rest in you.” As God exposes our heart, His Spirit renews and transforms our heart by realigning our desires with His will so that we do not live by our natural desires but instead can walk in the newness of life. When we walk in step with the Spirit, we are transformed.

God wants the good life for His children, and apart from Him, we have no good thing (Ps. 16:2, 63:3-4). We were formed for God that we would praise Him and bring Him glory (Is. 43:21). In fact, we cannot do better than God’s best for us because His very presence quenches our soul with a fullness of joy and pleasure that never comes to an end (Ps. 16:11).

But in order to know that fullness of joy, we must come. We must seek. And we must worship Him. James says, “Draw near to the Lord and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). The extent of our surrender to God is the extent of our satisfaction. He is the greatest pleasure and highest treasure. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we must search out our hearts to determine what we must surrender, then actively remove the idols that hinder us from worshiping Christ as our highest treasure.

No one else in all the earth is like God. As Isaiah notes, He “stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them like a tent to dwell in” (Is. 40:22). The One who created the galaxies and stars and calls them by name knows our names and came to earth to die and redeem us so He could bring us closer to Himself. He is the One our hearts long to worship. But if He is not our first love, we will always be empty. So, love Him. Worship Him. Your heart was made for this.

Mikayla Simpson interned with the Center for Biblical Worldview.

Made To Live

by Mikayla Simpson

August 20, 2021

For many people, 2020 brought change and challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic turned normal, as we know it, on its head, causing our society to collectively contemplate death in a deeper way.

Death Is Not Natural

Most people would agree that things in this world are not as they should be, especially when it comes to death. If you have ever watched someone on the doorstep of death, every gasping breath is a fight to live. This is because death is not natural for us; we were made to live.

The Bible explains that in the beginning God breathed into man the breath of life so that he could dwell together with Him. But tragically, humanity’s first parents, Adam and Eve, chose to disobey God’s good, life-sustaining command (Gen. 2:16-17, 3:1-6) and were cast out of Eden. God cursed them, saying, “for you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19b). Since that day, out of consequence for humanity’s disobedience, our bodies have continued to decay and will one day bring forth death (Rom. 6:23).

Death is not natural; we were not made for this. God created humanity in His image and after His likeness to live and walk in perfect fellowship with Him (Gen. 1:27). Sadly, death is the unnatural consequence of humanity’s sin.

What the Bible Says About Death

Although we live in a fallen world, Christians should not despair or grieve like those who have no hope (1 Thes. 4:13). Our hope is in Jesus Christ, who died so we could live—forever (John 3:16). In his book A Reason For God, Timothy Keller notes that Jesus became the man of sorrows (Is. 53:3) by taking “our suffering so seriously that he took it on himself.” Jesus Himself tells us, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” and “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:1, 6).

One of Jesus’ most encouraging promises is that He is coming back for those who put their trust in Him to bring them to live forever with Him (John 14:2-3, Rev. 21:3-4). According to Scripture, nothing in creation can separate those who have trusted in Jesus from the love of God, not even death (Rom. 8:23).

As believers walk through the shadow of death, there is ultimately nothing to fear because Jesus is there beside us. He is our comfort (Ps. 23). We can grieve what suffering does to us and what death takes from us, but we should always remember where our hope lies. Our hope is anchored in the Lord who shares in our suffering and is acquainted with great grief (Is. 53:3). We can find joy in our suffering by keeping our eyes on Jesus, knowing that He is always with us and He will strengthen our faith. These trials will produce steadfastness and endurance in the long run (James 1:2-4).

When we suffer, it is important to remember that Christ is with us. When we go through something difficult, it might seem that God has abandoned or forgotten us. But even on the darkest nights, we must remember that God hears and sees us and will not leave or forsake us.

Christians have hope despite death because of the promise of the resurrection. The Bible teaches that being human means we are embodied souls/ensouled bodies. Upon physical death, we will be disembodied, meaning our body will be separated from our spirit but our spirit will return to God (Ecc. 12:7). Scripture says that to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corin. 5:8). In other words, death will separate us from God, but believers will always be with the Lord in the present Heaven free from sin and suffering in the fullness of joy, awaiting the bodily resurrection and permanent home in the New Heaven and New Earth (Rom. 8:38-9, Rev. 21:1).

On the cross, Jesus tasted death to give us eternal life. Those who believe in Him “shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus declares, “‘I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live’” (John 11:25), thereby extending the invitation of eternal life to everyone. 

For believers, what waits on the other side of death is what we love, namely, the presence of the Lord. When we grieve the loss of someone we love or are weighed down by suffering, His peace and His presence revives our soul. We may be overwhelmed or sad, but this present pain is not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed and the perfect restoration that even creation groans for (Rom 8:18-20). Although we may come face to face with our darkest hour, God fills us with all joy and peace so that through His Holy Spirit, we can have a steadfast hope (Rom. 15:13).

We Were Made To Live

We were made to live. Scripture tells us God “has put eternity into man’s heart” (Ecc. 3:11) and is “not wishing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9). Life is a gift of God, but physical death is an effect of the fall. From the beginning, humanity has fought against physical death, establishing hospitals to ease suffering and its decaying effects because we long to live. 

We do not have to fear death. We can live abundantly in Christ, walking in step with the Spirit, knowing death is coming but making the most of every hour. This is because we know that death is not the end of us. Rather, it is a small interruption before we step into eternal life with our Lord. 

We all know someone who is suffering, maybe even facing death. When we are invited into someone’s pain, we have the opportunity to share the burden of their suffering, to be still with them, and speak words of life. Our words can impart the aroma of Christ and give the peace and hope that people hunger for. Without Christ, we will die physically and spiritually. With Christ, though we die, we have eternal life. It is only when we lose our fear of death that we can truly live.

Mikayla Simpson was a summer intern with the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council.

Archives