Nearly a decade ago I bought a little sports car that provided me much fun for several years. One day it was parked on the front lawn and I was putting a coat of wax on it. A neighbor walked over and casually remarked, “You put a lot of time into keeping that little thing looking good.” His remark was not meant as criticism, just friendly conversation, but it stuck in my mind. He noticed what I valued! He saw all the effort I put into that car. And I wondered if he saw other things in my life that I valued? He saw me ‘worshipping’ (in a manner) that machine; changing the oil, wiping down the interior, putting it away under cover in the garage. Had it become an idol? Some reflection brought clarity. My Miata was something I did enjoy but it was just a thing, not a god.
Who or what is your God? Note I did not ask if you had a god. We all do! We all give ourselves to something or somebody. The question is not ‘will I serve God?’ for we are designed for that purpose and fulfill it. “Who is my God?” is a question the demands our attention having consequence for all of life – both now and eternal.
Jeremiah preached about the choice of gods sarcastically chastising his audience for their silly decision to serve idols. “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them. … Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.” No one is like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. Who should not revere you, O King of the nations? This is your due. Among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you. They are all senseless and foolish; they are taught by worthless wooden idols. … But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King.” (Jeremiah 10:2-10, NIV)
“Your gods,” he mocks, “are like scarecrows – can’t walk, can’t talk; can’t hurt, can’t help!” He goes to point out that because they serve fraudulent gods, they are “senseless and foolish.” Now you might thinking, “Jerry, this doesn’t apply to me. I’m far beyond carving a god and carrying it around for good luck.” Probably true, but have you made a god of your bank account, your reputation, your best friend, or your Self? Gods come in many forms. That person or thing around which you organize your life, to which or to whom you give your best energies and resources, and from which you draw your security – is your god!
A god of gold will make a worshiper of greed.
A god of sensual pleasure will make a worshiper of gluttony or lust.
A god of reputation will make a hypocrite obsessed with social conformity.
The Lord of Glory will ennoble His worshipers. John teaches us that “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. …We love each other because he loved us first.” (1 John 4:16,19, NLT)
Jesus told us to carefully evaluate our words against our actions when it comes to declaring our God.
Singing the right songs on Sunday does not make the Lord our God, He says.
Getting involved with serving in a church program does not mean we love the Lord.
Religion and worship are not necessarily the same thing, Jesus said. “Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.” (Matthew 7:21-23, The Message)
Who is your God? It’s an important question with consequence in this life and eternity. The word from the Word – “O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.” (Isaiah 25:1, NIV) “You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.” (Isaiah 25:4, NIV)
Be Thou my vision
O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me
Save that Thou art
Thou my best thought
By day or by night
Waking or sleeping
Thy presence my light