Don’t make idols

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exod 20:4-6.)

An idol is more than an image, but involves making an image and then declaring that somehow this image has become a god or at the minimum is an image of that God. In doing so there is the obvious element of blasphemy involved. How can God be imaged? God will not and cannot be replaced (a jealous God) by any image. But hang on a minute. Idolatry, casting an image and proclaiming that as a god is also a deep insult to humanity.

Idolatry replaces God with a sub-god… Idolatry replaces the true image of God (humanity) with something that is a sub-image, for it is suggesting that we have the power to create an image. We are not the image makers, but are to be the image that manifests God. In indulging in idolatry we are declaring that we are not only replacing God with an image, but we are also replacing humanity, we are involved in the work of dehumanisation, which is the work of the demonic.

Paul gives us another insight

Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry) Col. 3:5.

Greed is a (the?) root of idolatry – seeing something, bowing down (submitting) in order to get it. That opens up so much; how much idolatry is embedded within ‘civilised’ society when there is a constant push against the contentment of living within boundaries? A continual push for something more, particularly at the expense of others / the planet? How much hidden (or overt) idolatry have I nurtured?

Time to interact with the images that God made.

One thought on “Don’t make idols

  1. I was in conversation about this last night after watching an excellent TED talk by Al Gore from July. In it he lays out how the fossil fuel industry has simply, due to greed, done everything in their power to corrupt and discourage the required transition away from fossil fuels. It is well worth watching. He also gives some amazing hope at the end.
    There is a verse somewhere in the NT that tell us to never even eat with a greedy man. Greed breaks community. It breaks relationships between people and between people and the land. We get pretty fussed about all sorts of ‘sins’ but rarely address greed. Instead we honor such people has having achieved some sort of greatness even when they are exposed as fools or worse as criminals. Maybe its time we confronted the destruction caused by greed, including our own.

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