"You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods."
~Exodus 20: 4, 5
Let me get one thing straight before I approach this delicate subject. I do not presume to know what does and does not qualify as an idol, especially in the lives of other people. That is strictly God's territory. What a relief to know it's not my place to pass judgment!
But it is my responsibility to be open and receptive when I sense God is revealing an idol in my own life. And believe me, I have had my share. So why is idolatry such an affront to Him? And what does He mean when He says He's a jealous God?
I can only think of it in terms of my marriage, my one frame of reference. I want my spouse to have eyes for me and me only. It would injure me deeply if I were to find out otherwise. If I saw my husband looking at another woman the way he looks at me, you can bet your bottom dollar I'd be jealous...and very angry!
God's love and devotion toward us run so much deeper than what we experience in our marriages. Marriage is the closest we can come to true intimacy while journeying on this earth. But I am convinced it is merely a foreshadowing of what we will experience with the One who created us.
So, what is an idol? My dictionary app says it's "an image of a deity other than God". John Calvin believed, "Everyone of us is, even from his mother's womb, a master craftsman of idols." I think that's true. We are all very skilled and talented when it comes to carving out our own idols. Over the years, some of my idols have been forms of entertainment...hobbies...even ME~MYSELF~and I. In and of themselves, they aren't bad. But when they begin to hold too much importance, they get exalted to where only God should be. And I, His unfaithful bride, need to make things right.
I don't know about you, but it would be very difficult for me to stay married to someone I couldn't trust, someone who was constantly stirring up feelings of jealousy. If my husband had a pattern of unfaithfulness, I don't think our marriage would stand the test of time. And it's certainly not the picture I want to paint in my relationship with God. He is ever faithful to me, and I long to be the same with Him.
I have to ask myself the hard questions. Am I controlling my tendency toward idolatry? Am I willing to put down the tools that I use to carve these images, and walk away from the things that divide my heart? Or am I allowing idols to control me? This is my challenge as I focus on God's second Commandment.
"Whatever controls us is our lord. The person who seeks power is controlled by power. The person who seeks acceptance is controlled by acceptance. We do not control ourselves. We are controlled by the lord of our lives."
~Rebecca Manley Pippert