7-Eleven is a familiar convenience store that is popularly known for one of their drinks, the Slurpee. Enter any store and it is likely that there is at least one person at the self-serve Slurpee machine. Obtaining one is a simple, if not an occasionally messy process. Yet, I did not think I needed a tutorial on how to make one until my daughter surprised me with a revelation.
“Dad! Mr. Smith taught us how to make a Slurpee!”
“He had to teach you to do this?”
My daughter smiled. “Of course we know how to make a Slurpee, but Mr. Smith has a special way to maximize the filling of the cup without spilling anything! He taught us how to make a Slurpee!”
My daughter was in 6th grade and she was eagerly sharing the lesson she learned in her history class. It is ironic that although my daughter did very well in the class, the one memory that stands out for her was learning how to make a Slurpee! It is no surprise that we selectively remember things that have practical applications in our lives. I don’t remember the obscure formulas of my advanced inorganic chemistry class, but I do remember how the professor, who was from Kauai, would invite any student in his class who was from Hawaii, to a dinner at his home. His generous spirit is still a model for my life.
I am sure the Apostle John constantly thought about His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He wrote five books in the Bible. Church historians called him the Apostle of Love. There are stories of him visiting churches and as the parishioners eagerly came to hear this last living disciple of Jesus Christ, he would often repeat one phrase, “Little Children, love one another!” This was the teachings of Jesus condensed to a single thought and practical application. Thus I was always surprised that the last verse in one of his books, 1 John, ends with this somber note.
Little children, guard yourselves from idols.
1 John 5:21 (CSB)
It is a book that is effusive with the love Jesus has for all of us, a love that John personally experienced. When I first read this last verse, I was perplexed. Why would the Apostle of Love end with such an ominous warning? It was not until many years later did I understand that an idol is anything that replaces or supplants our relationship with God. While it may be a votive or symbol, it can also be a desire to gain fame or riches. It can even be a relationship, even one within our own family. While we are commanded to love our spouses and neighbors as ourselves, this love should never supplant the love that we have for God. God is the source and power of love and all relationships first depend upon the strength of our relationship with Him.
All believers in Jesus Christ must guard themselves from idols just as God jealously guards the sanctity of our relationship with Him.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.