What’s your god in your life? What is your driving ambition? What do you make sacrifices for? What do you define your happiness and security by? What are you fears and insecurities? What do you define your reality by? What do you bend your imagination towards? What do you spend your money on? What are your most uncontrollable emotions connected with? What, in short, have you made your god?
There are infinite possibilities for the gods you have set up in your life. And we all have them as God says: “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 1v25) It is not for me to say who or what this god or idol is in your life, it is not for me to the point for the finger in blame for I know all too well the lure of idols and other gods, but it is for me to feel pity for you because if there is one thing I know and one thing that I were to share with you about these idols of yours then it is this: they will never love you.
This god of yours that holds such a grip over you will never repay the investment you make in it. It will take all the love you pour into it and will give none back. Think of it this way, if you have defined your life by material things: the latest technology, the latest fashion, a nice house, fast car or just in having possessions or wealth beyond counting then how can these intimate objects love back?
“Some pour out gold from their bags and weigh out silver on the scales; they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god, and they bow down and worship it. They lift it to their shoulders and carry it; they set it up in its place, and there it stands. From that spot it cannot move. Even though someone cries out to it, it cannot answer; it cannot save them from their troubles.”
Isaiah 46 v 6 – 7
In this passage the idol is described as being made of gold or silver; your idol is unlikely to be made of those metals but it could easily be made of the things I’ve mentioned above, money, possessions, clothes, stuff, if it defines your life you have made it your idol. And though you might cry out to it, it cannot answer and it cannot save you. All you have invested in it counts as nothing; it will do nothing for you.
But oh, how you will struggle to see this, oh how our gods blind us to their failures, oh what poor fools we are when we worship the gods we create:
“No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, ‘Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”
Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”
Isaiah 44 v 19 – 20
Or maybe you love something more abstract, power, a career, success, other’s good opinions of yourself or the love of a person of people then even then you will find that your god will not love you back, not as it should. Instead, ahead of you lies heartbreak, disillusionment and despair for your god, who you love and means so much to you will never be what or whom you want it to be. You will shackle yourself to your idol and pay in due course the penalty, as the Bible puts it you will drink from broken cisterns that hold no water. You will be unsatisfied and become bitter with your god. And yet still you will struggle to let it go, despite all its failings it will still hold your heart in its iron grips or if you do break free then you will only become ensnared by some other idol and the same process will happen again and again and again.
“All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame.”
Isaiah 44 v 9
These are the words of God about the foolishness and danger of idolatry, we are those who would speak for gods who are blind, we are those who are ignorant of our own shame. We love our idols and they will never love us back. This, clearly, is madness. But how do we escape? How can we break free? Where does our salvation lie?
“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5 v 8
The God of the Bible is not like the others gods and idols we raise up in our lives. With this God, the one true God, he loves us first so that we might love him. God so loved the world that he sent his only Son that whoever believes in him might not perish but have eternal life (John 3v16) God lavishes his love out on us, it overflows from him and it a love that is always greater than any love we could give it back.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3 v 18 – 19
Paul prays that we might know just how vast this love is, a love so great that is surpasses all knowledge. Surely then, we have found a God worthy of all worship and praise for no matter how much we invest in him, no matter what we give him, no matter how great our love is for him we know that he loves us in far greater measure. God’s love does not reject or spurn or leave you unsatisfied, instead of a broken cistern God describes himself as a spring of living water.
As God says about himself:
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Isaiah 40 v 28 – 31
Imagine for a minute faced with a choice between a muddy pit or a spring of living water, what would you choose? And yet every time we raise an idol in our heart we exchange the glory of God for a lie and drink from the muddy pit. Listen to what this God of love has to say:
“Gather together and come; assemble, you fugitives from the nations. Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save. Declare what is to be, present it— let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no God apart from me,
a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me.
“Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the LORD alone are deliverance and strength.’”
All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. But all the descendants of Israel will find deliverance in the LORD and will make their boast in him.”
Isaiah 45 v 20 – 25
God in his rich and endless love desires that all the ends of the earth turn to him and be saved despite the insult our idolatry is to him, despite the rebellion of our hearts and despite the offense we give him God loves us still and sent his Son so that we might be saved! This is how we know that God loves us: that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
So friends, turn from your idols that love you not, turn from your gods that blind and deceive you, turn from worshipping the lies your heart creates and turn to God, the God of love, who loves you when your idol doesn’t. Turn to him asking forgiveness for your sin and believing in Jesus Christ, his Son.
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”
Isaiah 40 v 11
The God you turn to is the one described above, a Shepherd to his sheep and he will tend for you and gently lead you and when you need it he will gather you in his arms and carry you close to his heart. This is not the uncaring idol you know now nor the unloving false god you worship but the God of all kindness, compassion and tenderness who will never reject his children.