I believe that every single one of us has fallen prey to the sin of idolatry at one point or another in our lives. Bold statement, I know. Hear me out.
When I say that we have fallen prey to idolatry, I am not saying that all of us have bowed down to a creepy buddha statue. Obviously that is not the case. What I am saying, however, is that we have a tendency as human beings to conjure and worship our own convenient version of God. This figment of our imagination may even share many characteristics with the God of the Bible, but don’t be mistaken: he is not Yahweh.
Allow me to provide you with an example from my own life. A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with my parents about marriage and divorce. I was curious as to when and under what circumstances divorce was biblically permitted. I didn’t like the answer they provided me with, so my parents encouraged me to dig into Jesus’ actual teaching on the subject and come to a conclusion myself. Unfortunately, the answer I found in Scripture didn’t match up with what I considered to be fair either. I heard myself say aloud, “It’s not true. God would never say that…” As I was reading the passage, I was literally saying, “Nope. I don’t believe it.” Why? Because I didn’t want to believe it. In that moment, I was choosing my own version of God–a version of God that agreed with my definition of fair–above the one true God.
Unfortunately, this is a much bigger deal than many of us care to admit. The Bible makes it crystal clear how God feels about idolatry, and worshipping our own convenient version of God is no better than bowing down to a creepy buddha statue. Consider God’s warning in the book of Exodus:
“You shall have no other gods before me… for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” – Exodus 20:3;5b-6
How do we guard ourselves against this imminent danger of convenient idolatry? We get to know our God, Yahweh, for who he truly is. We ask him to reveal himself to us, and then we allow him to respond by digging into our Bibles and reading Scripture. This is the only way to begin to understand His character and personality. Just as our human relationships take time and energy, so it is concerning our relationship with God.
Are you ever tempted to discredit an aspect of God’s character or teaching because it doesn’t line up with your preconceived thoughts about what is “fair” or “loving”? Next time you find yourself in such a position, remember how God feels about idolatry, and commit to choosing to build your worldview around what God’s Word actually says, instead of what you would like it to say.