Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ortberg's "IQ Test"

Several folks requested that I make available the tool I shared from John Ortberg on how to discern what might be the main idols in our lives, the principal rival to God holding the center place in our lives. Ortberg calls it his "IQ test," not an Intelligence Quotient, but our "Idolatry Quotient." With some minor adaptations, here's his diagnostic tool.

Step One: Common Idols of our Day

Start by recognizing or identifying common idols in our time:

- Money
- Relationship/s
- Success
- Attractiveness
- Intelligence
- Pleasure
- Addiction
- Religion/Spiritual Reputation
- Work
- Other________?

Step Two: Questions for Discernment

Now, use these to identify which idol most competes with God for first place in your life; you might make a mark next to the items above after each question and see which has the most marks at the end:

(1) Which of these do you think about most? When you wake up or fall asleep?
(2) Which do you most fear losing?
(3) Which most gives you a sense of identity?
(4) Which do you look to in order to feel secure?
(5) Which do I most want to be known for? Makes you feel like “somebody?”
(6) Which most causes my emotions to go up and down?
(7) Which would other people who know me well say is my biggest idol?
(8) Which do my efforts most tend to revolve around (what you sacrifice for)?

I would add a warning here: please do not allow this tool to be an instrument of guilt, but simply a way of assessing where you are in your walk. We all have a (fallen) natural tendency to replace God with something or someone else; so this is about owning where we are and offering that to God to lead us in a healthier way.

The passage in which I introduced this, Isaiah 44:6-23, ends with these strong words of grace and hope from our God: “Remember these things, Jacob, for you, Israel, are my servant. I have made you, you are my servant; Israel, I will not forget you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.”

God only reveals our idolatry so that he might set us free--free to experience the joy and wonder that comes when we invite him back to the center of our lives.

Grace and peace.