Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in heaven.
He does whatever he pleases.
Their idols are made of silver and gold—
they are man-made.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see,
ears, but cannot hear,
noses, but cannot smell,
hands, but cannot touch,
feet, but cannot walk.
They cannot even clear their throats.
Those who make them will end up like them,
as will everyone who trusts in them.
Psalm 115:2-8 (NET)
It’s difficult for me to picture idol worship. You find a little statue, place it above the fireplace, call it a god. Is that how it works?
To be fair, those who don’t know the Lord wonder why we trust in Him. But I’ve seen God at work in my life, how He has answered prayers, provided for my family, healed my heart when I thought it was broken beyond hope. I am so grateful.
I believe that Jesus was raised from death to life by His power. I believe that the power of His Spirit, the same power that resurrected the Lord, is at work in me.
Except when I don’t. Or at least, I act like I don’t.
At times my routine starts to look work-based. Follow me on this. I know I can’t earn my salvation, but perfectionists run after works-based fulfillment. The perfectionist withdraws her trust from the Father, probably without realizing it, and assumes total control over outcomes. It’s odd. We fear that we won’t get what we need or desire, so we wrestle power away from the Almighty. The all powerful God. The One who has made all those promises about our inheritance that is exorbitant and limitless and imperishable. You hear how absurd this is, right?
This lack of trust is a sneaky form of idol worship. The false god is ME. I place my trust in me. And, even if I think I have the world by the tail, I’ll always let myself down eventually.
In the psalm above and in other passages, God is clear that idols are powerless. One of my favorite passages is Isaiah 46.
Those who empty out gold from a purse
and weigh out silver on the scale
hire a metalsmith, who makes it into a god.
They then bow down and worship it.
They put it on their shoulder and carry it;
they put it in its place and it just stands there;
it does not move from its place.
Even when someone cries out to it, it does not reply;
it does not deliver him from his distress.
Remember this, so you can be brave.
Think about it, you rebels!
Remember what I accomplished in antiquity.
Truly I am God, I have no peer;
I am God, and there is none like me …
Isaiah 46:6-9 (NET)
It worked like this for the ancients. They made something powerless to be the object of worship. The imperfect design a “god” and lie to themselves that a little statue authority and power that do not exist. But Yahweh, perfect and all powerful, created us in His image. As wonderful and high in value as we are a image bearers, we are not objects to be worshiped. We bear His image to reflect His worth. In contrast to the gods described in the psalm, we hear and speak and walk–all things that are necessary to worship Him. Our worth as His unique creation gives us this purpose: to live as agents and instruments of worship for the Lord.
Here’s another problem. Take a look at the psalm again. You become like the thing that you worship. I heard a pastor say this once. If you worship money, you become greedy. If you worship sex, you become perverse. If you worship your children, you become childish. See how that works?
The psalm says we become powerless if we worship idols. But let me tell you what I’ve noticed. What happens when I wrestle that control away from God to try to create my desired outcomes? I become anxious and depressed. Follow me on this–if I create depression and anxiety by relying on my own strength, then I will not become Christ-like. I will only reap more anxiety and depression.
Continue in Isaiah 46 to verse 10 (NET):
[He] announces the end from the beginning
and reveals beforehand what has not yet occurred;
[He] says, ‘My plan will be realized,
I will accomplish what I desire.
We become anxious and depressed because we never had control over outcomes. Not for a second. He spoke the universe into existence and upholds it by His power.
No amount of performance can fashion me into a power to be trusted with outcomes. He alone is worthy. Only He can be trusted. My salvation was bought at a great cost, and my fulfillment is guaranteed by the presence of His Holy Spirit.
Now. He has taken off all the pressure, hasn’t He? Be at peace, friends.