March 1 I Monday
“The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.” —Psalm 135:15-18
There is one thing we will find in just about every place in the world. Not all cities or countries have wealth, industry or the same level of technology, but they all have centres of worship. The first-century writer Petronius humorously remarked, “It was easier to find a god than a man [in the ancient city of Athens].” Even today, despite secularism continually on the rise, there is usually a temple, mosque, shrine or church just around every corner. This is evidence of people trying to connect with something transcendent that will give meaning and direction to their lives.
Our need to worship exists because God has placed this desire within us. Solomon writes, “He has also set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11), which means God placed innate longings for the eternal within us for the purpose of wooing us into His grace and presence. In Augustine’s Confessions, he writes, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they find rest in You.”
This begs the question: What happens when we do not find God? What happens when we resist finding the answer to those longings deeply embedded in our hearts by God Himself? History shows that we look for alternatives and build substitutes in idols. For some religions, this means worshipping statues of wood, stone or precious metals that represent a deity in control of an aspect of life. There are gods for crops, power, prosperity, fertility, family and much more. People hope worshipping an idol will satisfy their inner longings, but idols only tease, frustrate and give a temporary sense of satisfaction.
More often, we fall into the trap today, as stated in Ezekiel 14:3, where people “...have set up idols in their hearts....” This is a far more subtle perversion of the longings God placed within us. Author and theologian Tim Keller describes modern idols as spiritual addictions—the material, psychological or emotional things we cannot live without and they come to dominate our lives. They may appear innocent at first, seeming to serve our interests, but they soon master, control and drive us, becoming the prevailing force of our thoughts, desires and emotions.
Modern-day idols such as money, status, careers and sex cannot simply be removed. This is why we have to address the need that lies underneath an idol. Although we may resist the pull of an idol for a time, it will eventually come to control us again. As we understand that our origin is in God Himself and begin to seek Him, He will replace our idols with Himself. Only in God alone do we find true and lasting contentment in life.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, forgive me of my idolatry, and root out the idols in my life, so they can be replaced with You. In You alone do I find true and lasting contentment. Thank You, Lord.