“The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
In the ancient world, idols were obvious. Someone who worshipped an idol would often literally bow down before a statue. He would make sacrifices before a big hunk of carved rock or wood or shaped metal. They were things made by human hands. Today…not so much. But, just because idolatry is more difficult to spot doesn’t meant the reality of it is any different. An idol is a thing. More precisely, an idol is an idea. It is an idea represented by a thing or several things. This means that an idol is actually less than a thing. Ideas can inspire much action, but they can’t actually do anything for us themselves. If we get into trouble, an idea isn’t going to save us. An idea might encourage us to think something, but it isn’t going to do anything for us itself. It might encourage us to say something, but it isn’t going to speak to us. It is a non-thing. It offers us no life. It has no breath.
Here’s another truth that the Scriptures make clear over and over again: We become like what we worship. The object of our worship shapes our character. We may not always feel this or realize it, but it happens all the same.
Well, if we worship something that has no life in it, guess what happens. We are gradually drained of life. We become like it. It cannot really see or hear or speak and if we worship it, we will gradually lose those abilities as well. Again, this doesn’t happen immediately or all at once or even literally, but it happens all the same.
It happens as the thing begins to so fill our ears that we can’t really hear the people around us except through the filter of our idol. We lose the ability to really see the people around us except through the lens of our idol. Our words are determined by our idol. And, since the idol is dead, so do we become. How much better to worship the God who is alive and can make us so as well.