Thursday, March 13, 2008

God Is Lord, and God Alone

At first glance, Bible passages forbidding idol worship seem irrelevant to modern society. On second look, the parallels become uncomfortably obvious:

The ancients made "gods" in the shapes of lifelike statues (Rom. 1:22-23); we set up statues and monuments to glorify human achievement.

The ancients gave up their valuables to make idols (Ex. 32:2-4); we squander our health, possessions, and time in the pursuit of pleasure and material success.

The ancients went so far as to murder human beings in the name of religious sacrifice (Dt. 12:31); we take advantage of other people and ignore their most desperate needs so we can keep up the comfortable lifestyles we enjoy.

Whatever we give the majority of our attention to, and defend at the expense of all else, is "god" to us--and very few people, Christian or otherwise, are following the real God so closely that they count everything else as worthless (cf. Phil. 3:7-9). Even those who try, usually find it takes years of conscious effort before acting on God's orders become second nature. Not that it ever does, in this life, become so second nature that every action and attitude is fully subject to God at all times. No one on serious speaking terms with the Holy Spirit can say with a clear conscience that he never sins anymore.

At its roots, all idolatry is the worship of self--our pleasures, our pride, our desire to make ourselves into "gods" who can manipulate the world and universe. That was what ancient idolaters had in mind when they engaged in occult activities. That is what we moderns hope for when we try to manipulate circumstances and other people into cooperating with our wants--when we try to manipulate God Himself by "praying with sufficient fervency" or "summoning enough faith" or "being good enough." It doesn't work. It doesn't deserve to.

The true God "will not give [His] glory to another or [His] praise to idols" (Is. 42:8, NIV).

All the things of earth we see
Vying for our loyalty--
Wealth, and praise, and earthly might--
All will fade and take their flight;
Nothing here remains our own:
God is Lord, and God alone.

All the things of earth we chase
In an endless, frantic race,
Will at last elude our grasp,
Slipping from our weakening clasp;
Let us wealth of earth disown:
God is Lord, and God alone.

All the things of earth we love
Come to us from God above--
His the power to give or take,
His the right to mend or break--
He alone deserves the throne:
God is Lord, and God alone.

All the things of earth one day
Will pass on into decay;
Only things of God will last;
Only He can hold us fast
Till we sing in Heaven, our Home:
"God is Lord, and God alone."

No comments: