I’ve been reading through the historical books of the Old Testament recently, reading account after account of the Israelites abandoning the Lord and chasing after false gods. I read through these accounts and often think about how easy it is for me as a 21st century reader to become arrogant. A chronological snob looking down at “primitive” people who worshipped gods of stone, wood, and metal.
It’s equally tempting to look around at the surrounding culture and identify the idols of those outside the Christian faith. Idols not necessarily made of silver and gold, but of power, prestige and progress.
And then it’s just as easy to look in one other direction: at the church itself, which often seems to chase after idols not dissimilar to the rest of the world. Some within the church want power as much, if not more, than anyone else. Some want ever-increasing platforms, and an extra zero at the end of the advance check or attendance figure.
But the place where I rarely look? My own heart.
I was doing some searching around through my archives and stumbled across this quote from Charles Spurgeon, which struck a nerve. Here’s what he wrote:
It is truly said that “they are no gods,” for the objects of our foolish love are very doubtful blessings, the solace which they yield us now is dangerous, and the help which they can give us in the hour of trouble is little indeed. Why, then, are we so bewitched with vanities? We pity the poor heathen who adore a god of stone, and yet worship a god of gold. Where is the vast superiority between a god of flesh and one of wood? The principle, the sin, the folly is the same in either case, only that in ours the crime is more aggravated because we have more light, and sin in the face of it. The heathen bows to a false deity, but the true God he has never known; we commit two evils, inasmuch as we forsake the living God and turn unto idols. May the Lord purge us all from this grievous iniquity!1
Why did cut a little deep? Because I want a lot of those things I mentioned above, too. I want the book deal. I want the influence. The security, the money, the comfort… those are really tempting, even when I know they would never be enough even if I got them. It struck a nerve because as much as I like to think of myself as a mature follower of Jesus, there is still much “grievous iniquity” to be dealt with. May God purge my heart of idolatry, too.