"Excuse me, you're in my seat..."
"Excuse me, you're in my seat..."
Idolatry is not something that we think much about these days. In fact, we are more likely to laugh and joke about it as we are to give it serious thought. Who worships little gold statues these days? Who thinks human creations have the power to save us?
It has been said that the trail of every life leads to a throne. That means when we examine our lives, when we look at how we spend our time and money and energy... what drives our emotions... we find what we worship. Even for Christians, if we took a close look at our lives, we might be shocked to discover who actually sat on the throne of our hearts. Is it truly Jesus?
"A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such a controlling position on your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought."Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods
An Idol is anything that we allow to sit upon the throne of our hearts that is not God... the true God revealed in Scripture and made known in Jesus Christ. Idols are the things that we allow to control us, define us, give us meaning and purpose. The things we look to for answers, for safety and hope. In the ancient world, idols were images crafted by human skill. But we are being unjust if we judge the ancients as being stupid and simplistic, believing that their creations held divine power. Those creations were simply symbols of something else... symbols of something bigger. Perhaps like the icons (images) that represent companies and schools and political persuasions today?
Let's be honest. We may be quick to say that our jobs do not define us... but when those jobs are taken away, how do we react? We may claim that money is not an idol... but what do we feel when it is in short supply? What do we look for to ensure our future security? Tim Keller uses the terms counterfeit gods to describe the rivals we have for God's throne. Our idols may not be golden or stone... they go by different names:
Romantic loveSuccessPhysical beauty and/or prowessRelationshipsMoneyPowerPleasureChildrenPossessions
An idol is anything that becomes more important to you than God... anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God. It is anything that you seek to give you what only God can give. It can be family and children, career, money or accomplishments. Peer approval, or saving face... demonstrated competence and skill... comfort and routine. Pretty much anything can become an idol when it is allowed to slip out of its place as gift, and becomes life. Even Christian Ministry can become an idol! Idolatry is when a good thing becomes... a god thing!
What's hard to admit is that even our concepts of God can become idols... when we focus on who we want God to be rather than accept who God reveals God-self to be... we create idols.
I hate to say, but in our modern world, there's a whole lot of idolatry going on...
I wonder what is the idea or image in your mind that holds your happiness? Your purpose? your safety?
For each one of us, it will look differently... but it brings the same result... brokenness and destruction. Whenever we allow something other than God to take center stage in our lives, we find devastation and death... in relationships, in lives, in legacies...
A friend calls it her wrecking ball...
A wrecking ball is a force of destruction, one that destroys anything in its path. Idols are equally destructive because they demand sacrifices... of health, of joy and peace, of relationships and family... all to achieve our "dreams" which ultimately prove illusory and empty.
This is why God gave the first of the Ten Commandments... addressed idolatry. "You shall have no other god's before Me." (Exodus 20:3) God is not an insecure teenager threatened by us having other relationships! As our Creator, God knows how we are designed and what is best for us. His commands are meant to protect us from the damage that idolatry wrecks on the human soul. He knows that the only safe and healthy worship for the human heart is to have our lives centered on Him, the one who shaped us and who redeems us.
Our journey through Covid 19 has been a very tumultuous journey... it has been frustrating, painful, scary, even terrifying for many. And I am cautious about saying it has brought good or bad to our lives. That depends on how we choose to let things speak to us! As we have encountered less, perhaps we have become aware of our desire for more? And the question I am dying to ask is where will we look to find our fulfillment?
St, John of the Cross in his poem The Dark Night of the Soul describes how God leads people into seasons of obscurity... of unknowing... of uncertainty with the intent of revealing what God is not! As all is stripped away... all power, all prestige, all knowledge... we come to the realization that God is no thing... no thing that can be possess or controlled or harmed. God is ever much greater than any thing we can imagine or create.
Perhaps, in this season of Covid, we might come to that place of humility and recognize our idols... confess our dogmatic reliance on and trust of impotent idols, and acknowledge their inability to give us what we most need and desire... Life. And then may we come to see, to know, the True God who loves us with an everlasting Love, who knows us better than we know ourselves, and who is Life itself. Then, maybe Covid will have held a good gift...
Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our heartsare restless until they find rest in Thee.–St. Augustine