The easiest way to become an idolator

idol calf

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

It’s humbling and sobering, if we ever actually come to realize it.  Our minds, unaided by God’s grace and revelation, are massive idol factories.  Just because people don’t claim to be theologians doesn’t mean that they aren’t.

One thing that clearly separates us from the animals is that we live by far more than instinct.  We are haunted by much more than impulses for food, safety and sex. We dream about purpose, significance and honor.  And about where we came from and what happens when we die.  And perhaps even more significant: we are capable of experiencing AWE.

Think of it.  A dog never looks at a sunrise and is suddenly stunned and overwhelmed by a sense of awe.  A fish never looks at its newly hatched offspring and weeps for joy.  The Greek word for “man” (anthropos) means upward looker.

We have both the capacity and motivation to worship.  Everybody does.  And everybody worships…something…or someone.

God says that our thoughts related to these massive questions…are pretty much wrong…unless we get them from Him.  Or stated another way, everyone is a theologian in her/his own mind – just not very good ones.  We have substituted our own fallen and creaturely thoughts for the actual realities that the Creator has established. Some of these thoughts are quite base and dark.  Others are highly cultured and refined. But they are all idolatrous if not from Him.

To think rightly about God we should first look “up”, but we all tend to look “in”. Rather than giving glory to God, we worship the creature.  We make God into our image.

These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you. (Psalm 50:21)

This is the basic source of all idolatry.  We wrongly define the world, our lives, and who God is.  And we assign faulty values to even the stuff we get more or less right.  Thus we fail to truly see what matters most to Him.

A.W. Tozer said, “Whatever comes into your mind when you think about God is the single most important thing about you…”  Because it has the power to either bring you into a real and healthy relationship with God as He truly is, or to increasingly bring you into the delusion of worshipping a fictitious God, an idol of your own making.

The return to God thus involves a humble quest and a realization that there is much error in our minds regarding Him.  And a willingness for God to confront the wrong thoughts about Him that we have embraced.

So what’s the easiest way to become an idolater?  Do nothing!  Just continue to live as your own authority regarding God.

Prayer:

God, forgive us for the pride of thinking we get to define who You are.  For arrogantly thinking we could whittle you down to suit us and look like us.  Help us to give You the place You deserve in our thoughts and lives.  Give us hearts that desire to truly know You and to submit to Your glorious self-revelation in the Bible and in Your beloved Son, Jesus. Amen. 

4 thoughts on “The easiest way to become an idolator

  1. No kidding about that, Russ. It’s been a long time since I read Jeremiah 10. It’s one of the clearest declarations of the emptiness of idolatry…in view of the greatness of God. Everybody needs to read that chapter!

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