Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front of me. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all? Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When any of the Israelites set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet, I the Lord will answer them myself in keeping with their great idolatry. I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.’ “Therefore say to the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices! Ezekiel 14:1-6
It’s not an understatement to say you can find everything on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. These sites have brought the swap meet to the World Wide Web. From used cars and golf clubs to kitchen appliances and designer clothes, your typical fare is well represented. You can also track down unique items like vintage 60’s cartoon lunchboxes, half used toothpaste and burnt toast that bears a striking resemblance to Elvis Presley.
There is also a section of these websites that enable users to post things they are trying to track down. Considering the number of wacky items I’ve seen come across the wire, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least bit to see an ad from a user looking for the ‘ideal’ idol to devote their time, energy and heart towards. In my mind, the listing would look something like this:
“Desperately seeking something or someone to fill the emptiness that I feel inside. Must give value, meaning, security and significance. Looking to upgrade to a newer model as the idols of my past have consistently let me down and failed to fulfill. Hoping this time will be different. New idol must possess the ability to help me escape the realities I do not want to face while at the same time being light on guilt. If this sounds like a good fit, please contact….”
I realize this is stretching reality a bit, but weirdly, it fits. God has wired us to worship. It is part of our DNA to give our affections and attention to something greater than ourselves. Unfortunately, through the event that transpired in the garden, which welcomed sin to into the world, humans have wrongly doubted God’s goodness and looked to lesser things to repair the problem that sin created. We’ve elevated the created above the Creator.
The more we feed our desires, the stronger they become. Eventually, the idols of our heart become the focus of our inner and outer life. They drive both our actions and thoughts. Our perspective shifts from God and the future He has for us to irrational decisions based off the here and now. We act in ways we think are best for us, based on our feelings, with little regard to the consequences of our decisions. What we fail to realize is these ‘idols’ are incapable of leading to satisfaction because they were never designed to satisfy in the first place.
Every longing we experience is a longing for life. If we continue to let these idols run wild, our hearts will be crushed. Our desires are too strong to be trusted to the things of this earth. Author and theologian CS Lewis said, “These things... are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers.” At the core of these wants is a connection we are missing which can only be filled by God.
What idols exist in your life?
How have you deceived yourself into believing that engaging your idol is of benefit to you? What perceived value or meaning does this idol give to you? Why is it insane to think these things?
God, open my eyes to the things I put before You. When I see where I've given my affection and attention to lesser things, I hope to display the courage to dethrone them. May I worship You with all that I have and be devoted to reflecting Your heart to this world. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.