It’s really an all-or-nothing deal.
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.
We knows these are the Big Two; numbers 1 and 2 in God’s ten commandments found in Exodus. And they’re front and center for a very good reason.
But…you say…I’ve never worshiped, much less carved, an idol. That’s soooo first century. Idols? Those are ancient, strange-looking statues, aren’t they? Oh, puleeeeze…get with the program and join the twenty-first century.
Well, we all may be part of an advanced, post-modern society, but I assure you…idols are alive and well, and living Living La Vida Loca in our lives. But you’re correct.…we probably don’t spend time molding little statues out of clay. Noooo…we’re much too sophisticated for that.
Our idols are a little more stealth and complex. But, whatever we worship in our lives we also end up serving and, ultimately, devoting ourselves to it…and that’s idolatry.
Don’t we all routinely bow to the gods of beauty, success, career and popularity? And how about romance, acceptance and…yes…sometimes even family? The gods of science, technology and human reasoning are popular in this day and age, as is military superiority. Even pride in our race, religion or ethnic background can become an idol. None of these are horrible, terrible things..when put in their rightful places. After all, where would we be without science and technology? And who would want to live in a world without a bit of romance and strong relationships. And our cultural and ethnic heritage can wonderfully enrich our lives.
But…and there’s always a ‘but’.…an idol is anything we turn to to make us feel secure, significant and/or important in this life. They’re the things on which we build our self-worth and identity. Making an idol out of something means giving it a front and center place of honor in our life…something that displaces the love and worship we should be giving our Creator.
But I do love God! we shout! But I really neeeeeeed.….
I rest my case.
Idols seem to have supernatural power to distract us from what’s really important. When we live for our careers, material wealth, the ultimate relationship, perfect beauty etc., we allow created things…instead of our God…to rule our lives and, consequently, our thoughts and actions.
When we focus on “stuff” to fulfill our lives, we’re really turning our back on God’s love, grace and providence. We’re wagging a finger in the face of God and telling him he just doesn’t have what it takes to make us happy; he just isn’t doing enough; and we really must add a few things on our own.
And that never really works out well, does it?
Linking up with ABC Wednesday