Monday, February 14, 2011

My Idols & His Image

Over the past few weeks I've started a few different blog entries but have gotten distracted by other priorities and left drafts in various stages of completion.  So here's to finishing a post I started a couple of weeks ago...

My hunting season slows way down during the cold months. While I anxiously await for that first Yard Sale sign to pop up in the spring, I do make a few winter treks through indoor hunting grounds to satisfy my itch. I have claimed a few treasures this winter that I'm anxious to share but not before one more long and picture-less but important "caveat" post.

I already admitted in my previous post that I really like things. Cheap and interesting diamonds in the rough. I know that I can't take them with me into eternity (he who dies with the most toys still dies). I know that they can't provide me with any true joy or peace. I always tell my kids "People Are More Important Than Things" and that's a motto I truly believe and live by. However, finding things and decorating with them does invoke some sort of passion and happiness inside of me. I often question this and wonder -  Is this wrong? Am I materialistic?  I've even second guessed whether I should have started a blog with the intention of focusing (in part) on things. I really don't care so much about the finer things in life. I am content to live simply, but I am still drawn to things and I wonder what God thinks about this.

Over the past couple of weeks God, in his perfect timing, has led me to various places in the Bible that have reminded me of some truths related to these passions of mine - things and decorating. Here are the verses I've read, thought about and prayed about, how I've worked through my questions, and the conclusions I've come to.

My ongoing study of Isaiah has covered the topic of idols quite a few times already. In the historical context, idols were false gods that people crafted out of precious metals and wood. People would blatantly worship, pray to or even sacrafice to these "gods". In Isaiah 2:7-8, the prophet Isaiah speaks regarding the Israelites, "Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures...Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made." While the thought of worshiping or sacraficing to a statue of metal or wood sounds absolutely rediculous to me, I was presented with some convicting questions in my study materials.

What preocupations of the Israelites also consume my mind and energy? Hmmm....I do become preoccupied by things that people have made and the work of people's hands (including mine) in displaying/arranging them BUT I would not say my thoughts and time are consumed by these questioned desires. Consume is a strong word but I'll admit to being preoccupied.

What other idols do people in our culture worship (evidenced by the fact that their thoughts, emotions and time are consumed by them)? Work, status, success/accomplishments, power, entertainment, children, fashion, art, houses, cars, competition, sports, significant others/relationships, alcohol, partying, attention, social media... OK, so I guess a few of the items in this list, along with my desire to hunt for and display physical treasures, do collectively consume much of my thoughts, emotions and time.

Other truths I've gleamed from God's Word about idols:
Psalm 115:4-7 and Psalm 135:15-18--Idols have no mouth to talk, no eyes to see, no ears to hear.
Jeremiah 10:8 - 16--Idols are worthless, senseless, foolish, fraud, objects of mockery, can not create but are created, will perish and will shame their crafters.
Habakkuk 2:18 - 19--Idols have no value, teach lies, cannot be trusted in, cannot give guidance, and are not alive.

How is God different from these idols, especially in relation to people? In Isaiah 40:18 I read,"To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to?" In verses 25, God again asks, "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" My answer - No one and nothing can compare to God. Unlike all the aforementioned examples of idols, He is the creator of all things. He made us and the materials we use to create. God talks to us, sees us, hears us. He is the Wonderful Counselor, full of wisdom and understanding. He is real, true, and alive. God saves. He is eternal, everlasting. He can be trusted and has proven to explain the past and know the future. He gives us strength, power, help and hope. No idol can ever be or do these things.

I can honestly say I am at a point where I think my priorities are straight. I know and have experienced these things about God to be true. I don't seek to find these qualities in other places. These truths about God usually consume my thoughts and time more than things, though I will always be tempted by idols. Another verse to hold me accountable is Matthew 6:19-21 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

So on top of my passion for things, I've also been questioning my interest in designing, creating, and decorating. Again, God recently landed me at the beginning of the Bible when the Trinity (God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) were at work in the creation of the world, Genesis 1:26 says, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness..." and verse 27 says "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female..." and finally in verse 31, "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." So I know that God designed, created and decorated the whole earth. After doing this, he looked at what he had done and acknowledged how good and beautiful it was. Being God, he had every right to take pride in what he had made because it glorified him.

I am made in his likeness. Like God, I have these same desires to design, create and decorate. Like God, I also experience that feeling of pride in my work and consider what I've done to be good and beautiful. But here I go back to my first post. Humility. There's the tempation to take too much pride in what I do. Isaiah tied it back in for me: "...everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made" (Isaiah 43:7). God made me for his glory. I need to acknowledge my creator for any of my gifts and talents. How can I design, create and decorate to his glory?? Still pondering that.

What I have concluded is this: Admiring things and hunting for physical treasures is not wrong unless these things become idols, consuming my thoughts and time. Hunting for and sharing spiritual treasures must be where my heart is (and God knows my heart). My designer-creator-decorator God created me in his image and he deserves all credit and glory for the gifts and talents he's given me to use.

My intention in starting this blog is to be transparent. I've shared some of my passions and desires and some of my tempations and struggles. If, by following my blog or observing my life, you witness idolatry or pride, I invite you to speak the truth in love and call me out on it. If anyone does want to keep me accountable, I ask that you do so in private please. While humilty is my goal, humiliation is not! :)

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