Sadly we’re all prone to embrace functional saviors…. We must identify and reject them. But it’s not always easy. Our deceitful hearts clutch, cloak, and protect them. And functional saviors take many forms. For some, it takes the form of a self-destructive addiction. For others it could be something that otherwise would be good or harmless if they weren’t dependent on it – activities or things. It could be television, family, friends, sleep, caffeine, partying, not partying, eating, not eating. It could be career, fashion, investment accounts, approval of others, material possessions, peer status, good looks, recreation, spectator sports, having a clean house, or working out at the gym. It could be just about anything, including moderate living, asceticism, philanthropic giving, or even ministry.
If you haven’t already figured out what your functional saviors are, try filling in these blanks:
I am preoccupied with ____________.
If only __________, then I would be happy.
I get my sense of significance from _________.
I would protect and preserve _________ at any cost.
I fear losing __________.
The thing that gives me the greatest pleasure is ___________.
When I lose ________ I get angry, resentful, frustrated, anxious, or depressed.
For me, life depends on _________.
The thing that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning is _________.
Through the prophet Jeremiah, God issued a strong warning against functional saviors, calling them broken cisterns:
Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (2:11-13)
God’s warning is abundantly clear. Functional saviors cannot be depended on. They leak. They leave us empty and thirsty. To depend on them requires us to forsake God. He declares this to be unprofitable, appalling, shocking, and evil. The flip-side of this is that when we identify and remove our functional saviors, our dependence is free to shift to the true and living God, the fountain of living waters.”