Chapter 4 Verse 8:

“By Nature Are Not gods”

 How can you be a slave to something that does not exist?  You bypass the question of truth and skip to the question of pragmatics.  Can this (which is not what I believe it to be) get me what I want?  If I begin to dream of the life I want and can imagine this thing giving it to me, I will serve it!

Didn’t this tendency die out with the advent of science?  No!  Do we really still do this?  Absolutely!  This is the daily, moment-by-moment functioning of the human heart.  We long for things and look for ways to attain them.

What are the modern things to which we become enslaved?  In the list below rank the items on a scale of 1 to 10. (1 least compelling; 10 most driving).

_____ Approval of Others
_____ Affection of a Loved One
_____ Power, Influence, Position
_____ Education & Knowledge
_____ Popularity
_____ Entertainment (non-boredom)
_____ Peace & Order
_____ Accomplishments
_____ Money & Nice Things
_____ Other: __________________

These are the kind of things that we tend to build our life around and think, “If only I had more of this my life would be complete.”  When we begin to base our contentment, security, identity, or confidence around one of these items we begin to make them our functional god.  They begin to determine right and wrong; worth my time and not worth my time; hope and despair.

“But, wait a minute, these things are not bad.  I thought idols had to be evil or false.  These things are good and real.”  You are right on the last point.  These things are real and good.  But you are mistaken on the first point.  To be an idol all something has to do is to take God’s place in our lives.

Begin to recognize what you elevate to the level of God in your life. Then your goal is to submit it (not eliminate it) to “the one who by nature is God.”  The items in the list above are good desires but cruel masters.  As idols, they make promises of fulfillment they can never keep.  Monitor your levels of anxiety, depression, guilt, planning, hoarding, secrecy, and daydreaming regarding these items.  When one of these levels become intense you likely need to take Galatians 4:8 to heart.

Chapter 4 Verse 17:

“The Danger of Isolation”

Galatians 4:17 (NIV)
“Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good.
What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them.”

Isolation is a sign of danger in both relationships and religion.  When a relationship, teacher, or organization begins to ask you to leave behind most or all of your relationships you should be very leery.

Isolation Red Flags (not meant to be exhaustive)

  • Being asked to isolate from Christian because they are Christians
  • Being asked to isolate from family for non-moral reasons
  • Being asked to not participate in same sex social outings
  • Being asked to not socialize with “people who do not like me”
  • Being made to feel guilty or demanding to come on normal social outings (i.e., grocery, post office, family reunions, etc…)
  • Posing your relationship as an all-or-nothing (i.e., “If you want to be in relationship with me, then you will not talk with [name].”)
  • Being threatened about reporting or confronting illegal or immoral activities

Effects of Prolonged Isolation

  • Increases the influence of the controlling person or organization
  • No outside relationships by which to measure “normal”
  • “Facts” of the controlling person or organization cannot be verified
  • Legitimate and good social outlets/resources begin to feel threatening
  • Self-doubt increases due to social awkwardness and fear