God offers us much more than we choose to enjoy. We gravitate, instead, toward individual choice, toward self reliance.
Beth Moore, in her book, Breaking Free, says, “God gave this practice a name that I was unprepared to hear: He called it idolatry. Anything we try to put in a place where God belongs is an idol.”
To grow spiritually, and to move away from idolatry, we must identify and remove certain obstacles.
Two obstacles of spiritual development reside in unbelief and pride. Both are easily overcome. We can choose to believe in God, and to humble ourselves before Him.
But defeating the obstacle of idol worship is harder to do. An idol can take the form of a person, place or thing.
Idols can remain in place for generations. In 1400 B.C., for example, we find in Numbers (21:8-9), “the people in the wilderness grew impatient and spoke against God and Moses.”
God then sent poisonous snakes. Some people were bitten, and some repented. To heal the penitents, God asked Moses to create a bronze snake upon which the afflicted could gaze. Hundreds of years later, in 700 B.C., II Kings (18:4) reveals that the snake had become an idol.
Through God, Hezekiah was encouraged to destroy the bronze serpent. What God had ordered for man’s good had become an object of evil.
But Hezekiah is not a hero. Hezekiah, after being healed by God, began to think himself special. This was not the case. Hezekiah was the recipient of God’s unmerited grace. Christ had not yet arrived to teach mankind of God’s benevolence.
Hezekiah’s family history is instructive, too. According to II Chronicles (28:1), Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz, made idols, worshipped gods such as Baal, and offered sacrifices to deities in the temple. Ahaz even sacrificed one of his sons. The affect of this idolatry upon Hezekiah, and the means of his brother’s death, was likely significant. Hezekiah sought not only to destroy idols, but also to obey God, to reform the Temple, and to restore God’s laws.
Today we idolize money, houses, cars, consumer goods, churches, traditions, pastors and leaders. A review of scripture is timely, such as Isaiah (2:6-7), “Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures.” Hauntingly like America in prosperous years, is it not?
The nation of Israel had been given everything by God, yet refused to be content with God’s gifts. Today, our desire for instant gratification is so great that we find it hard to resist temptations that meet our needs. We worship any agent of fulfillment. Greed for status has made idols of mere things.
To strengthen our economy, God is making a special request of us. Isaiah (44:22) reminds, “We return to Him, and remember He has redeemed us.”
If you cling to an idol, or nurture a craving for a thing, or a person, or a place, then lift up that idol before God. Offer a closed fist as symbol of the false deity, and confess, before opening your hand, to release the idol to God.
Let Christ take you by the hand to lead you into a closer relationship with His father, God.
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami. To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or email the pastor at firstname.lastname@example.org.