Biblical texts often speak much of idolatry. But what are idols exactly? I think for the most part people have a good idea. Loosely speaking: Idols are objects, concepts or people worshiped by humans.
Anything can be an idol: money, fun, coffee, girls, boys, popularity, family, friends, giving ext ext. The interesting thing about these idols, such as money, is that in worshiping them, we are saying “you will provide.” Ofcourse! After all we wouldn’t invest in them if we thought they wouldn’t respond and give us a return. Its kinda a weird idea for the simple and obvious fact that … Money doesn’t think. Money doesn’t know your name and nor does it hear your cries for help. Most idols just aren’t living breathing creatures and don’t proact or react to or for anything. Those that do, for instance your hot girlfriend, may try to react and reward your positive (or negative) actions but, due to being human, fails miserably and usually suffers from one of two things:
1. Being crushed under the weight of your ever increasing expectations.
2. Crushing you she fails to deliver what vital requirements you requested of her.
The idea of Christianity is: We have found an idol that works! JESUS CHRIST! He is the greatest of all the idols. The Perfect Idol!
‘Idol that works’ is an oxymoron. As far as I can tell the term ‘Idol’ was coined to describe something that takes the throne of your life which rightly belongs to God. The thing about God’s throne is that it’s a bloody big throne and nothing but God is going to fill it. It’s a god shaped throne which fits in a god shaped hole in our lives. Neither fun nor power nor family nor money carries enough ‘Fullness’ to sit in the throne. Because the definition of an Idol is “a replacement for God” Idols are by definition not gods. They don’t fit in the god shaped hole, the god shaped throne. They are by definition, nonfunctional for the job we ask them to do. There is no such thing as an idol that works.
The consequence of the phrase ‘Jesus is the Idol that works.’ is that it compares Jesus to an Idol. Jesus can’t be an Idol, because Jesus is functional for what we demand of him. He fits in the throne because its actually his throne. That’s the point! We didn’t need the perfect Idol, we needed God!
It is a terrible mistake to think that Jesus and the Idols of the world are competing for the throne. Idols are no more competing with God for the throne as a lawnmower is competing against my weet-bix for the breakfast table. A lawnmower is not a substitute for my weet-bix because it’s not a functional breakfast. It doesn’t do the job.
So why did we come up with this comparison between idols and The Lord in the first place. I came up with this logic.
(a) Idols want to sit on the throne of our lives.
(b) Jesus wants to sit on the throne of our lives
(c) Therefore they share a common factor and can be compared.
On surface reading the logic seemed to hold very well. But there was something wrong with point (c). That meant that there had to be an error in either point (a) or (b) and there was certainly nothing wrong with point (b). It took a while for me to find the error but when I did, it struck me that I had never thought of it before. It’s funny how you can learn so much from rubbish if you stop to understand why it’s rubbish.
I think the error is this: Idols don’t actually want to be on The Throne of God. Because Idols don’t have desires. Idols don’t want or need or feel. Its blatantly obvious now that I write it down. Idols don’t fight to keep God off the throne, we do. We are the ones competing.Even if the Idols did have desires, why would they want to obtain something they cant even use. Idols can’t sit on the throne of your life, its too big, it’s not designed for them.
This raised a question: If Idols don’t replace God and direct my life towards oblivion from a throne, what makes them so dangerous? I’ve had it all wrong! Idols don’t sit on the throne of your life, they consume it. Without a throne there is no place for God in your life, no place for God to rule for you. And without God; your source of life and order, you suffocate, and die. Idol’s can’t send you to die. Idols can’t speak they don’t give orders. And send you to what exactly? Death is not a thing no more than darkness is a thing. Darkness is just the absence of light. An idol doesn’t send you to death, it cuts off your source of life, and you become lifeless. Death is the absence of life.
The worst part of this story is that, Idols don’t have hands, they can’t destroy things. Rather, they trick you into destroying your own life source. Rejecting the throne, leaving it empty and baron and sacrificing your time and money to everything else, anything else. As this ugly process continues, you wither away, having given everything you had to nothing. You thought your Idol was in control, promising hope. But the throne was always empty and the idol was a mirage. You look over your shoulder and the throne that once held The Lord now lies in ruins. The coat of gold has been stripped away and the cushions lie in tatters simply because it had been abandoned for too long. The temple that once held the throne has collapsed. And you are dying. Because the temple that holds the throne is you. Because the Throne is your heart.