Elvis Presley once said in an interview, “Well sir, the image is one thing and the human being is another. It’s very hard to live up to an image”. I am a long time Elvis fan. You know you are successful in pop culture when you are a “one name” artist. This past week was the 34th anniversary of his death and he has only grown more popular and successful. A teen idol who still has a host of fans long past their teen days. I personally don’t think he’s still alive but….just kidding!! Thinking of his career and his popularity, brings to mind the subject of idols.
During my morning quiet time, I have been reading in Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a priest who had been taken in captivity to Babylon and while there he was called by God to be a prophet. The Israelites had a bad habit of worshiping just about anything those around them worshiped. Why didn’t they influence others as much as they were influenced? Probably for some of the same reasons we struggle with that but, needless to say, they were deep into idol worship. God is a jealous God and He had told them in no uncertain terms how he felt about idols. Number one was: “Do Not worship any other gods besides me. Do Not make idols of any kind…You must never bow down to them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other god!” (Exodus 20) I would consider this instruction to be about as direct as you can get. Yet, they bowed.
If I’m not careful, I can be very judgemental concerning the Israelites. Why?, how?, what were they thinking?, are all questions that have been asked by me. On the other hand, I can excuse and overlook idol worship in my own life. Richard Keyes, “The Idol Factory”, defines idols this way, “An idol is something within creation that is inflated to function as a substitute for God. All sorts of things are potential idols, depending only on our attitudes and actions toward them…Idolatry may not involve explicit denials of God’s existence or character. It may well come in the form of an over attachment to something that is, in itself, perfectly good…An idol can be a physical object, a property, a person, an activity, a role, an institution, a hope, an image, an idea, a pleasure, a hero – anything that can substitute for God”. Hmmm, that definition stings. When I search my own heart, I must confess, there have been idols there. A big one has been the scale. Have you ever seen the commercial that shows a person dragging around a scale chained to their leg? Funny, but painful. I have spent most of my adult life struggling with weight. I look back over the years and my poor body image has defined me in so many ways. How I felt about myself, what activities I would participate in and my clothing choices to only name a few. One of the biggest regrets I have now is that I was never able to enjoy my younger body! I can not remember a time since I was 16 that I didn’t feel the need to lose weight. I never felt pretty. Strange, isn’t it? If I were to bear my soul, and I don’t think either one of us could handle that, there are a few more that I have bowed to.
The thing about false gods is that they never satisfy. Never. False gods are unable to fill up those empty places in our hearts. They lie, they mislead us, they addict us, they just never deliver on any promises they make to us. They leave us frustrated, jealous, defeated, depressed and a whole host of other feelings, emotions and realities. God offered so much more to the Israelites and He offers so much more to us.
God promised restoration to the Israelites and He promises it for you and I too. Isa. 41:9-10 “For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand”. Ezekiel 36:26 “And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so you will obey my laws and do whatever I command”. Hebrews 1:3 “As we know Jesus better, His divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive His own glory and goodness! And by that same mighty power, He has given us all of His rich and wonderful promises. He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in His divine nature”.
Kelly Minter, “No Other Gods”, puts it like this, “A professed god is who or what we say our god is; a functional god is who or what actually operates as our god”. Is there something or someone “functioning” as a god in your life? When was the last time you not only searched your own heart but asked God to search it and “reveal any unclean” thing within you? When we tear down the idols in our lives and purpose in our hearts to devote that kind of attachment, allegiance, sacrifice and worship to the one true God, we can truly begin to find peace and joy. I will not lie, as I have said in the past, I’m a work in progress. Living in the freedom of worshiping the one true God is the desire of my heart. I am so glad that God knows that about me.
Until we visit again…