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What's the Difference Between an Idol and a Special Interest?

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Hello, everyone. This is my first time writing a blog on this site, but God has been pressing something on my heart lately that I need your help with. I'm a high-functioning autistic high school student, and I notice a lot of times in my youth group that I don't relate to the way that the pastor is talking to us. For instance, we talked about idols some time ago, and my pastor said that a good way to tell if something is an idol is to ask yourself what the first thing you think of when you wake up is. You see where I'm going with this. What's the difference between an idol and a special interest?

The most famous verse on idolatry in the Bible is in Exodus 20, when God is laying out the Ten Commandments. "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments". The word jealous points to God as a father, who desires his children's love and attention. When Jesus came, it became possible for us to have this relationship with God through his son's sacrifice (John 1:12). He asks us to come to Him and be healed, not only in this life (Matthew 11:28-30) but in what comes after (John 6:37).

I don't feel that the modern church is very open to neurodivergent individuals. I started watching a show called The Chosen that details Jesus' life, and I was surprised to see that the apostle Matthew was portrayed as neurodivergent. I've never seen a person like me even associated with Christ before. But the truth is that God desired for there to be diversity in the world. Why else would he make so many plants and animals (Genesis 1:11-24)? The person He chose to lead the Israelites had difficulty communicating (Exodus 4:10).

However, there aren't many resources for neurodivergent people. We have to work out what God's word means for us through lots of struggling. I have a special interest in tv shows, and they take up the majority of my mental space throughout the day. I rely on them to keep me calm in a world that feels strange to me. However, if I were to believe that they are the key to my salvation, or that they are the answer to all of the problems in my life, then I would be lying to myself. This is what God means when he refers to himself as the Father. I love my special interest, but not as much as I love my own blood relations. God doesn't ask us to give up the gifts that He has blessed us with (1 Peter 4:10-11), only that we don't let it blind us from His glory. We can do this by using our special interests to serve Him. The way that God asks us to serve using our gifts is different for everyone, but I hope that this blog helped you in finding that.

With that said, I want to ask everyone what they think the difference between idols and special interests are. I don't want anyone to think that this blog is purely for Christians. In fact, it might be helpful to get some perspectives from people who don't identify with Christ. What are your experiences with the church as a neurodivergent person?
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