When I was growing up, we talked a lot about idols in Sunday school. There would usually be a piece of poster board taped to a wall, and the teacher would ask us to name things in our lives that can become idols. We would call out the typical scapegoats: money, success, television, good grades, romance, and she would write them across the poster board with her blue Marks-a-lot. We would spend the rest of the class gazing at our “idols” posted there on the wall, talking about ways to keep God first in our lives.
What we didn’t realize during all of those conversations about idols was that our real problem wasn’t just having our priorities out of order. The real idol problem in our lives was that we didn’t know God. We were praising and worshiping and scripting a worldview based on a god that we only had vague ideas about.
And, if you want to know the truth of it, that’s still our biggest idol problem today.
We tend to build a god in our mind that is very much like us. He belongs to our political party. What would Jesus do? He would do what we think should be done. In our imaginations, God is a grandfatherly figure in the sky, His character pieced together based on different Bible stories we heard as kids. We think God is a weird conglomeration of all goodness and love and best friend-ness. We have created a god that is a caricature, a thin-faced, crystal-blue-eyed combination of every cliche that crosses our Facebook newsfeed.
The god that we have created gets his feelings hurt if you don’t type “Amen” when you see His picture on social media. He is a gentleman. He would make the perfect prom date. He is all-powerful, yet he’s shyly waiting in a corner for you to decide to dance with him.
And, we went all the way through 2015, like we have most of our lives, failing to get to know who God really is. We’re happy with our stunted, imaginary version of the God of the Universe, and we hold him up as our golden calf, the Jesus who doesn’t interrupt our existence too much. The god who doesn’t ask much of us. Who is nearby in case we ever need a little help. But, let’s face it–we don’t need help that often. We’re self-sufficient. We’re smart. We love God. We really do.
We just don’t know Him very well.
And, the sad news is that whoever it is that we’re worshiping is a far cry from who God really is.
So, what if in 2016 we decided to take our idol problem in hand? What if we determined that this is the year we are going to really get to know the only living God? What if we resolved that we when we raise our hands and hearts to the God of Abraham that we will do so with a full knowledge of His power, His sovereignty, His goodness, His strength, His patience, His holiness, His absolute perfection?
And, what if we purposed to spread that truth. The truth of who God really is, instead of the half-baked, passive, created-in-our-image god that we keep claiming allegiance to. God alone is worthy of praise. All of Him.
You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. Exodus 20:3-4