How Codependency Makes Idolaters of Us All
Part 10 of the Codependent in Colossians Series
by Kim Pullen
Series Manifesto: Instead of ignoring the pain following the disclosure of our spouse’s sexual sin, we choose to use our trauma as a catalyst for growth, digging deeply into God’s Word in search of spiritual healing and transformation.
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”
When my marriage fell apart, I could no longer deny the truth. I’d made gods of both my husband and my fear.
No, I didn’t have a little shrine with pictures and candles. And no, I didn’t physically bow in my husband’s presence. But I did allow his needs and desires to overshadow God’s Word in my mind and in my heart. What’s worse, I made a god of my fear of rejection and abandonment. In every sense, I became what the Bible scornfully refers to as “an idolater”.
Who’s the Boss?
Colossians 1:15-18 deflates all religions arguments about who has the right to sit on the throne of our lives. Not only was Jesus present at Creation (Genesis 1:26), he’s also the master of death (Revelation 1:18). No other religious figure makes such bold claims.
And these weren’t just boasts. Jesus demonstrated his power throughout the gospels, culminating in his own resurrection. As the prototype, he more than earned the right to expect our unequivocal and undivided devotion.
When we became Christians, we understood this. There were no doubts. We accepted this as fact. So what happened? Why did I, and why do we, slowly remove Jesus from his throne and replace him with someone or something less worthy?
Baggage and Abandonment
Bottom line, we lose our first love. Maybe our roots aren’t deep because we didn’t stay grounded in the scriptures (Matthew 13:20-21). Or maybe we drifted (Hebrews 2:1). Maybe we took our eyes off Jesus and let the storms of life make us fearful and faithless (Matthew 14:30).
Me? I carried childhood baggage into my relationship with Christ. Generations of dads in my family were trained to be emotionally reserved, starving their children of the affirmation necessary for a girl-child like me to grow up secure and unafraid. Emotionally abandoned by my dad, I was unknowingly terrified of being rejected and abandoned.
When I got married, this insecurity crawled into my suitcase, moved into my new life, and spread its tentacles into every crack and crevice of my relationships. Instead of looking to God to affirm me, I expected it from my husband, Russ, and from others in my life.
Another Word for Codependency
The world uses the term codependency to describe this type of response. The Bible simply calls it idolatry.
Think about it. Idolatry is worshipping or serving someone or something other than God (Deuteronomy 5:7-8). Most codependents either put the needs, wants, or desires of others—spouse, parents, kids, boss, or friends—first even it violates God’s commands or their own conscience. Or they try to control others’ choices, or decisions so they feel secure.
In both cases boundaries are violated, others violating ours or us violating others’. In other words, we put someone besides God on the throne of our life.
So how do we stop?
Colossians was written to disciples to warn them their loyalty was drifting and to refocus them on Jesus. The only way we keep the false gods at bay in our lives is by maintaining a dynamic relationship with God. That means we are in a continual state of reconciliation. God doesn’t change or go anywhere, but we do.
Reconciliation isn’t just a one-time thing with God any more than reconciliation with our spouse or our parents or our kids is. The Apostle Paul called the Corinthians to be reconciled and they were already disciples (2 Corinthians 5:20). In our lives, we have spats and disagreements with others or we’re upset because God doesn’t answer a prayer. Sometimes we just go into a funk.
Think of a garden: How often do you have to weed, water, and fertilize it to see your fruit? Why would we think a relationship with God (or anybody) would be any different?
A Throne Check
I have a throne check for you. What in the world, you ask, is a throne check?
It’s a short quiz you can take to see who’s on the throne of your life right now. There’s no shame here. Our need to repent of idolatry is as constant as our need to repent of overindulging in sweets, social media, or sleep. If not, we wouldn’t need Jesus’ blood to continually cleanse us of sin (1 John 1:7).
So answer the questions to determine who’s wearing the crown in your life and do whatever it takes to change if it isn’t the One and Only (John 1:18).
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