Glittering Follies (superficially attractive foolishness)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Would You Tear Down Your Mama’s Idols? Thabiti Anyabwile

12/11/2013 Conversations about reform in the Black Church often hit the roadblock of church tradition. Someone begins the conversation by pointing out a weakness or a need in the church. But before long respondents recast the weakness as a matter of history or tradition. We’re told that either the situation exists because of a long-standing disadvantage. Or we’re told “that’s how we’ve always done church.” In this way history becomes a hitching post rather than a guide post. We’re tied down to it rather than instructed by it.
But any effort to reform the Black Church requires courage—the kind of courage that refuses to be romantic about the past or held hostage to it. Anyone wishing to see the Black Church grow into newness of life will have to tip a few sacred cows and challenge the prevailing romanticism we’re all likely to embrace.
So, we have to ask ourselves, “Am I willing to tear down my mother’s idols?” We find ourselves in a position not too unlike King Asa of Judah. Asa was a faithful king who brought reform to Judah’s religious life. He did so at great cost and with great courage. He did so contrary to his mother’s role and practices.
“Even Maacah, his mother, King Asa removed from being queen mother because she had made a detestable image for Asherah. Asa cut down her image, crushed it, and burned it at the brook Kidron. But the high places were not taken out of Israel. Nevertheless, the heart of Asa was wholly true all his days. And he brought into the house of God the sacred gifts of his father and his own sacred gifts, silver, and gold, and vessels.” (2 Chron. 15:16-18)
“…mama is not the kind of woman you trifle with.”
Now, my mama is not the kind of woman you trifle with. She’s never suffered fools. And she has her own strong mind and opinion about things. If she were “queen mother” she’d be a handful, I’m sure. In fact, I don’t think any “queen mother” is easy to deal with. Remember: power corrupts—even our moms. And I can well imagine some “church mothers” who are in effect “queen mothers” with their own Asherahs set up in the church. Anyone doing anything but dancing around that pole is in danger of their ire.
So the question is begged: “In the course of church reform and strengthening the people of God, are we prepared to tear down our mama’s idols?”
Notice Asa’s response. First, he removed his own mama “from being queen mother because she had made a detestable image for Asherah.” Now that’s just gangsta. Actually, it’s faithful. He fears God more than he fears his mother. Precisely because she made a detestable image Asa dethroned her. At stake was the proper worship of God according to His word and Asa chose God’s word and God’s way over his mother.
Second, “Asa cut down her image, crushed it, and burned it at the brook Kidron.” That’s gangster, too. None of this, “Just move to the side of the sanctuary.” He left no remnants of the accursed idol. His destruction was complete. No thought can be left that this thing made with hands was a ‘god.’
Asa’s leadership is instructive for those who would seek to promote the health, reform and revival of God’s people according to God’s word. One: Leave no room for unfaithful leadership and unbiblical offices. Two: Leave no room for idolatry. Even if this affects your mama.
Does the Black Church have any men with courage enough to tear down their own mama’s idols in order to be faithful to God and bring spiritual reform to the people of God? I pray so.

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