Idols and the Right Question

“Our lives as we live them seem like lives that anticipate questions that never will be asked. It seems as if we are getting ourselves ready for the question “How much did you earn during your lifetime?” or “How many friends did you make?” or “How much progress did you make in your career?” or “How much influence did you have on people?” or “How many conversions did you make?”Were any of these to be the question Christ will ask when he comes again in glory, many of us could approach the judgment day with great confidence. But nobody is going to hear any of these questions.

The question we all are going to face is the question we are least prepared for. It is: “What have you done for the least of mine?” As long as there are strangers; hungry, naked, and sick people; prisoners, refugees, and slaves; people who are handicapped physically, mentally, or emotionally; people without work, a home, or a piece of land, there will be that haunting question from the throne of judgment: “What have you done for the least of mine?”

-Henri Nouwen, Seeds of Hope

I receive a daily email from Plough Publications. They send a variety of quotations and writings that are worthy of a good ponder or two. This morning while Mia was learning a bit about making a book using our home computer, I was reviewing a Bible study that I’m considering for St. Mary’s this coming Advent. What’s it about? Idolatry, a very timely topic for all people of faith. While thinking about that, my daily email came from Plough, with this quote, which also speaks very well to one aspect of the power dynamic of idols in my life and perhaps yours, too.

As Nouwen notes above, sometimes we can get lost in life and prepare for “questions that will never be asked.” Sometimes these questions spring from people, places or things that are really not God. Naming our idols helps us to let go of them so that we can be in right relationship with God and prepare ourselves to answer the question that will for sure be asked: “What have you done for the least of these, my brothers and sisters?”

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