How to Commit Idolatry

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The Bible is about you. Where are you in the story?

One thing I love about the Bible is that it’s about me. And we all know how much I love me. I’m my favorite subject.

I was reading Jeremiah 2 and 3 and saw myself in nearly every verse. That’s really bad news if you know anything about Jeremiah 2. But it’s really good news if you know anything about Jeremiah 3.

I’m coming out of a season of pure rebellion against the Lord. No, I didn’t shave my head, renounce Jesus, and join a hippie commune. But, in my heart, I told the Lord He could keep His way of doing things to Himself; I wanted to do things my way.

That’s basically what God is accusing Israel of in Jeremiah 2. Their rebellion might look worse than mine because they were outwardly worshiping idols. But, don’t be fooled. I was inwardly worshiping myself by continually choosing my way over God’s way.

The Lord says to Israel, “What fault did your fathers find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves,” (Jeremiah 2:5).

Do you hear the sadness in the Father’s voice? The disappointment. The hurt. My soul stung as I read this verse, confirming the truth of the statement that following worthless idols makes us worthless. I’ve experienced that in my rebellion. God didn’t love me any less or value me any less, but I was of no value to the Kingdom, unable to do my part in furthering the Kingdom while my heart was turned away from the Lord.

God goes on to charge Israel: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water,” (Jeremiah 2:13).

The first sin is forsaking God, abandoning Him. We, too, put God on the shelf when circumstances don’t seem favorable. When obeying God – submitting to what He asks us to do – doesn’t feel like it’s in our best interest, we tell Him, “No,” forsaking Him.

That’s bad enough. But that’s not all. We are made to worship, and if we refuse to worship God, we instinctively search out something or someone else to worship. We dig our own cisterns, looking for alternate water. In other words, we go find idols who suit our fancies, the second sin.

  1. Abandon God
  2. Find God Substitute

Yes, I have done this. Recently. The Bible is about me.

God appeals to Israel – to all of us. “Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,” (Jeremiah 2:19).

There comes a point when the rebellious realize their cisterns are broken, their idols don’t satisfy. Indeed, they can’t satisfy. Not fully. Repercussions from our idolatrous choices begin to show themselves. Our relationship with God is strained. Our relationships with others are breaking. Our days become dark, joyless, evil, and bitter.  And, slowly, we begin to understand it’s because we have no awe of the Lord anymore. We haven’t respected Him or trusted Him. We’ve lost our healthy fear of Him and are no longer motivated by love for Him. We’ve done this. I’ve done this.

As I read the words, “…you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,” my soul cried out, “Lord! May it never be!” And He whispered, “Kelly… it already was.”

My soul ached. He was right. Just a couple months ago. It already was. I had no awe of the Lord.

Even in the midst of the rebellion, God had tried to warn me of the path I was on. But, like the Israelites, I said, “‘I am not defiled; I have not run after [idols],” even though I knew I had (Jeremiah 2:23). I thought if I didn’t admit my sin was sin, it wouldn’t actually be sin. I could still pretend it was acceptable.

But, finally, Israel and I could no longer deny our sin.  We both exclaimed, “It’s no use! I love foreign gods, and I must go after them,” (Jeremiah 2:25). We made excuses. True, the pull of sin can be strong. We can feel unable to resist temptations.

But we are not powerless! We have the very power that raised Christ from the dead IN US (Romans 8:11). The power of God can help us resist the “foreign gods” we love, but we have to want to resist.

The Bible is about me. And it’s about you, too. Where are you in this story? Are you acting like Israel right now? Stop and feel the weight of your rebellion. Be broken by it. And then take heart, Jeremiah 3 is coming.

 

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