Useless Idols

  • March 24, 2015
  • #8582

Who do we run to when we’re in trouble: the idols of our preference or the living God?

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and welcome to "Joni and Friends."

You know, this makes the ninth year that Ken and I have been reading through the Bible together, and in all these many times of reading through the scripture, I am amazed at how much the Bible talks about idols. Now, most of us when we hear that word we think of the Old Testament. We think of wooden or metal objects on a shelf that people worship. And because we entertain that idea, we often skim over those warnings in God's Word against worshipping idols. But believe me, idols are just as current and contemporary as your favorite football team, your favorite hobby, or your favorite television show. I know, believe me, I struggle with it.

When I’m in pain, I can either take it to God, or over-medicate it. When I’m bored, I can either expect the Lord to surprise me, or entertain myself with a little online shopping. When I’m speaking, I can either bask in the spotlight, or give the glory to God. When I’m in a discussion, I can either hog the conversation, or defer to others in the room. When I’m depressed, I can either run to the Lord or run to the refrigerator. When I can’t sleep at night, I can either quiet my mind with scriptures, or I can run mental movies of past successes. When I’m working, I can either ask Jesus for His guidance, or become frantic about deadlines. When I’m relaxing, I can either think or read about God, or I can veg out in front of the TV. And this is just the short list.

You see, all of us by nature are worshipers. We all worship something. We’re just made to do it. But the question is, do we worship God or do we worship the idols of our preference? We’re either doing one or the other. Which (getting back to my original point) is why we would do well to heed what the Bible says about idols. Because God hates them with a perfect hatred; He will not tolerate them in our lives and will do everything from His end to remove them from our grasp. God despises the idols we make because He knows that for us, these are objects of worship. Now, in our weakest moments, we do prefer them over the Lord, don’t we; we choose them over God; we run to them for comfort and encouragement. But the truth is, as Christopher Wright once said, “The worst thing about idols, as the Hebrew Scriptures so tirelessly point out, is that they are utterly useless when you need them most.” Isn’t that the truth? The refrigerator, the television, the sports stadium, the medicine cabinet, the movie theater, the latest novels and the magazines, well, they just don’t satisfy. They don’t provide the comfort or the encouragement that we often expect out of them. True comfort and life-giving encouragement can only be found when we worship the Lord; when we choose Jesus; when we prefer Him over all other things.

Jonah chapter 2, verse 9 is one of the most powerful scriptures that addresses idolatry. It says, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” Friend, when you cling to idols; you know, the little habits, the entertainments and so on, when you cling to them the Bible says you forfeit grace from God. You lose it, you give it up, you surrender it, you part with the grace that could be yours. So today, friend, do not sacrifice the grace (that is the help, the goodwill, and favor) from God that could be yours. Close the refrigerator, turn off the TV, put down the novel, walk away from ESPN, and begin trusting the Lord.

© Joni and Friends

 

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