When people stop believing in God they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything. G.K. Chesterton
The second Commandment, the one where God forbids us to make idols, warns us of this very human, yet very sinful, tendency. The age old temptation is not so much to dispense with God (for that would be as foolish as denying that a watch has a maker) but to make a god who is either tame (whom we don’t have to obey) or who is limited to our understanding.
As one person put it, “God has made us in His image and we have returned the compliment by making Him in our image”! Clearly this is the ultimate in idolatry.
Thankfully God has spoken and has sent His Son, the Lord Jesus, in order to show us exactly what He is like, what He requires of us and what He promises us.
God is the living and loving God, whereas idols are dead, dumb and demeaning and can only deliver bondage and darkness. This has happened across the world. But idols are not just made of metal they are also mental, ideas that attract, control and bind us.
Our community, in concert with Western civilisation, has many idols. I will suggest just three that have got us by the throat and are sucking the life out of us. They are science, sex and stuff.
Science is a wonderful gift of God. We have benefited so much from this God given enterprise. However for many it has become an end in itself. No longer do we humbly approach science as “thinking God’s thoughts after Him”
leading to praise of God but we believe that we can control everything. By idolising science we loose our sense of wonder and awe not to mention responsible stewardship and constraint. We are left unable to cope with disappointments and failure because we have no living God to call upon.
Ironically this has led many into deifying nature and moving into pantheistic views of creation. Evolution as an explanation of creation and mother nature, as a description of God’s sustaining purposes, have become ideas which not only rob God of His rightful praise but deliver to us superstition and meaninglessness.
Similarly, sex is seen as the key to relationships and life. Our insatiable appetite for titillation on the screen is eloquent testimony to the law of diminishing returns and the abuse of women. Sex was always meant to be the result of committed serving relationship for married couples never the means of fulfillment and joy. J. John notes “the idol of sex murmurs to us that, if we serve it, it will give us a permanent state of ecstatic joy, delight and intimacy. But it never does.” The testimony of broken marriages, STD’s and broken hearts demonstrates the validity of his words. Only God can deliver lasting joy, delight and intimacy. This is why He says “no idols.”
Stuff, be it money or possessions clearly is the idol we so love. Advertising and capitalism thrive on our inate propensity to believe the lie that “life is measured by what we have.” God is so good. That is why He gives us this command. We were built to hear His word, not imagine what we think He is like. When He says “no idols” it is to keep us from “cheap imitations” and to remind us that He alone can be trusted.
Article by Peter Brain