This week, we discussed a speech I heard back at Jubilee ’99 in Pittsburgh given by David Bestwick-Satterlee titled, “A Dangerous Faith.” It was a really good discussion. I’ll include some quotes from that speech below:
If we don’t look to God for our identity, we will instead look to something else in the creation and we will worship it. If we turn from God, we will turn to something else because we have to. We need a god in our lives. And if we don’t choose to worship the true God, we will worship a false god instead. Our fundamental religious nature will never let us do otherwise. And these false gods that we worship, these gods that we look to for our identity, are what the Bible calls “idols.”
As we look to God for our identity, we are shaped by God and we become, in every way, the people that God intended. Likewise, when we look to an idol for answers of identity, we are shaped by that idol. And soon, that idol begins to create an entire framework of understanding that begins to answer our questions about every area of our lives. We call this system of answers an “ideology,” which comes from the word “idol.” These ideologies begin to shape every bit of who we are.
The reality is that, for the vast majority of work going on in America, the one true God has little voice among the many gods battling for your allegiance. And it is not just the gods of work that threaten us. It is the gods that we bow to personally. The gods of popularity, comfort, self-fulfillment. These gods are already hard at work trying to persuade you to bow to them.
Idols are insidious. They entice us by promising something that they can’t deliver and then, instead of serving us, they begin to demand service from us. Pretty soon, you can’t even remember how you got swallowed up. And by then you have a mortgage and a mound of debt and a vision of who you are that demands all of who you are. And at work, you have trouble seeing God as relevant at all. All you can do is keep plodding ahead, serving your false god and holding on to a promise that we begin to believe will never come and so we give up on believing in promises at all. Pretty soon, we don’t even look human anymore. We look like consumers.
Here’s the thing—and here is why the stories of Israel are so important to us. Do you think the people who burned their kids in the hands of those idols didn’t believe in Yahweh anymore? They probably still believed at one level or another. They probably still went to the temple to make their sacrifices. They still went to church. But they had so bought the idols in the world around them, they had so accommodated to them, that they couldn’t even see the inconsistencies anymore.
You see, there is a hard truth here and if there is one thing I want you to take away, it would be this. The life that the world is promising you, that life you have always been told you deserve? That life is a lie.
Imagine if we drew a line around the walls of this room, just a simple pencil line, and that line represented the history of the world… Wherever we are in that history, at best your life is a tiny dot. What is your life worth? What is this pursuit of your comfort and the pursuit of things worth? Is it worth wasting your life? Is it worth having your life mean nothing in the bigger picture that God has always intended for you? All that will be remembered of you will be those pieces of your life done in service to God. What would you like to leave on that line?