It manifests itself in a reluctance to take risks, in a desire to preserve the way things are, in a fear of exposing myself to the possibility of disrupting my comfort.
The unearthing process has been slow and tedious (much like an archaeological dig, I imagine). I think my mind had been set on the reality of this idol some time ago when I read John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life, but I'm not sure I recognized its presence in my life at that time.
But God has shone his light on it in my heart in various ways recently, including some passages we recently studied in Sunday School.
And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I die every day—I mean that, brothers—just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. (1 Cor 15:30-31 NIV)
Now I'm not the apostle Paul, but I am to follow his example. But here I am not following his example. I shy away from things that endanger me in one way or another (not that we shouldn't on occasions; do not fear, those of you who like me--I'm not looking, like Origen, for martyrdom).
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor 15:58 NIV, emphasis added)
"Fully" gets me. "Always" does, too. There are times when I give myself fully, and there are times when I don't. Forgive me, Lord, and help me.
Another tool the Lord has used in revealing this idol in me is reading about my brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are boldly sharing the gospel where doing so often incurs imprisonment, fines, torture, repercussions against family, and martyrdom.
Then I read this today in John Stott's The Cross of Christ:
Yet we still regard security as our birthright and 'safety first' as a prudent motto.... Where are the Christians who are prepared to put service before security, compassion before comfort, hardship before ease? Thousands of pioneer Christian tasks are waiting to be done, which challenge our complacency, and which call for risk. Insistence on security is incompatible with the way of the cross. (p 288)