Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Well, not exactly -- but as the anonymous Psalmist tells us in beautiful sarcasm, we become like what we worship.  See Psalm 115:
                    2.       Why do the nations say,
                              "Where now is their God?"
                    3.       Our God is in the heavens;
                              All that He pleases, He does!
                    4.       Their idols are silver and gold,
                              The work of men's hands.
                    5.       Mouths they have but they can't speak;
                              Eyes they have but they can't see;
                    6.       Ears they have but they can't hear;
                              Noses they have but they can't smell;
                    7.       Hands they have but they can't feel.
                              Feet they have but they can't walk.
                              They can't make a sound in their throat!
                    8.       Those who make them will become like them --
                              All who thrust in them!

We may imagine that our Psalmist was engaged in a dialog or debate with some idol -- worshipper who questioned the fact that the God of Israel could not be seen, while stating that his own god was clearly visible and more "real."

"Ah yes" answers the Psalmist, "our God is invisible because He is in the heavens."  He is not claiming here that God is distant, but that He is not localized as his friend's god is.

And what's more, the God of the Psalmist is sovereign.  He is the one in control; He is not, as the idol, dependent on human creatures for His very existence.  And not only that, He is active; He does what He pleases, while though the idol has features which might indicate senses and abilities, it is incapable of any of these.   All it can do is sit there.

But then the Psalmist drives home his main attack on idol worship:  the one who made this idol will ultimately become just like it and not only the idol's maker, but anyone who puts his trust in it -- senseless and immobile.

According the Genesis 1:26 and 7, God created man -- male and female -- in His own image and likeness.  Whatever else the image of God is, it certainly includes the fact that man, like God and unlike all other earthly creatures, is a spiritual being, even though he shares a material nature with the other creatures.

But man in his idolatry has attempted to bring God down to his own material level.  So man's desire to "be like God" (Genesis 3:4) is fulfilled, except that instead of becoming like the Creator God, he has become like the god of his own creation.

But that was then; this is now.  We in the 21st century America do no worship figures made in our likeness.  We've grown beyond that in our advanced culture.  Or have we?

So, what do we worship?  What do we put our trust in?  I suppose I could list dozens of things that occupy our trust and reverence, all things of our own making, or at least, that of other humans -- things that are not necessarily "idols" in themselves, but things that can serve as gods for us.  And when they do, we as the Psalmist tells us, become like them.

We're told in Paul's letter to the Romans (8:28, 29), that God's purpose for us is to be "conformed to the image of His Son."  And we can't get there without redirecting our trust and worship to Him, or as Paul also tells us in Romans 12:2, "Stop being conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind ..."

If I'm not becoming more like Christ, what am I becoming like?

1 comment:

Bob McCollum said...

Hi Bill,

Don't suppose we'd have the injunction, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5:21) if even those of us in the church weren't prone to such false worship.

Incidentally, I wonder which of our entrenched opinions and deeply-held convictions have idol worship at their core.

Won't it be grand to one day leave sin and nonsense behind?