Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them. Psalm 115:1-8
"Has anyone ever told you that you look like....?" I don't know about you, but anytime someone starts off with a question like that, I get a bit apprehensive. I'm hoping they will say I'm the spitting image of Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, or any other strikingly handsome Hollywood A-Lister. Unfortunately, from my experience and from what many people have told me, I'm a doppelganger for the awkward wheelchair kid on Glee, Andy Bernard from The Office (Ed Helms), or Jason Sudeikis. I try to take these comparisons as a compliment (or at least in stride), yet it kind of stings knowing that's what people see in me.
For the past few days, we've spent time exploring our tendency to put our hope in the things of this world for purpose, meaning, and security. Our struggle with idolatry is a significant concern to God. Judging by how often this topic shows up in Scripture, we can conclude that there are very few issues that matter to God more.
God knows that we become what we worship. What importance does the beer bottle play for the person who needs a drink just to get through the day? How lost does the obsessively driven businessman feel without his iPhone at his fingertips? How powerful are the numbers on the scale for the person who finds their self-worth in their appearance?
The list could go on and on: the refrigerator as a place of refuge for those seeking comfort, the designer clothes for the person who believes their value is in labels or the computer at night for the guy who is lonely. The tangible idols we can see like the bottle or computer are indicators of a deeper problem occurring within us.
But, what about the struggles with idolatry that remain hidden under the surface and never manifest themselves into something tangible? Scripture is clear that God is more concerned with these ‘idols of the heart’ than anything we construct with our hands (Ezekiel 14:3). Idols of the heart are harder to pinpoint with the naked eye. There’s the mom who pursues portraying a perfect household, the man who fights for complete control of the world around him, the woman who needs to be a size 0 to feel valued and loved.
The punishment for giving in to whatever our hearts crave is the giving up of control. In a way, we become idol doppelgangers. We, along with everyone else, have a difficult time seeing ourselves apart from what we've allowed to sit on the throne of our heart. We draw a striking resemblance to the things we devote our affection and attention towards.
The one who medicates themselves through a bottle is labeled an alcoholic. The individual who lives at the office is now a full-fledged workaholic. The woman who wants everything just so is your typical control freak. The idols now shape our identity. We begin to look like them as our lives, in turn, become hollow and empty. With our ears tuned into the idol’s wishes, it is challenging to hear what God has to say.
But, it doesn't have to be that way. It requires an honest look in the mirror. By seeing past the external behavior, we are able to delve into the issues of the heart and see what is happening behind the scenes. Identifying our idols positions us to be grateful. Being honest about our desires is the first step towards freedom.
Only when we keep our hearts open to being formed in God’s image will we ever forsake attempting to create God on our terms. We must view the command to repent and destroy our idols to be a gracious command from God to help us- to push us to the life we most want. He is drawing us towards the complete fulfillment of our desires (Psalm 37:4) and it is His steadfast love that sustains us.
What results when we give up control of our lives to the idols we created?
Idols do not take root in a person’s life overnight. They thrive and grow when a simple desire remains unchecked. How did your idol take the place of prominence?
God, may I be vulnerable enough to look inside myself and identify the things that I hope will bring me life. By bringing these things to the surface, may I replace them with a renewed focus on You and Your love. I desire for people to see You when they watch how I live my life and spend my days. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.