How to Commit Idolatry

One thing I love about the Bible is that it’s about me.

And we all know how much I love me.

I’m my favorite subject.

I was reading Jeremiah 2 and 3 yesterday and saw myself in nearly every verse. That’s really bad news if you know anything about Jeremiah 2. But it’s really good news if you know anything about Jeremiah 3.

I’m coming out of a season of pure rebellion against the Lord. No, I didn’t shave my head, renounce Jesus, and join a hippie commune. But, in my heart, I told the Lord He could keep His way of doing things to Himself; I wanted to do things my way.

That’s basically what God is accusing Israel of in Jeremiah 2. Their rebellion might look worse than mine because they were outwardly worshiping idols. But, don’t be fooled. I was inwardly worshiping myself by continually choosing my way over God’s way.

The Lord says to Israel, “What fault did your fathers find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves,” (Jeremiah 2:5).

Do you hear the sadness in the Father’s voice? The disappointment. The hurt. My soul stung as I read this verse, confirming the truth of the statement that following worthless idols makes us worthless. I’ve experienced that in my rebellion. God didn’t love me any less or value me any less, but I was of no value to the Kingdom, unable to do my part in furthering the Kingdom while my heart was turned away from the Lord.

God goes on to charge Israel: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water,” (Jeremiah 2:13).

The first sin is forsaking God, abandoning Him. We, too, put God on the shelf when circumstances don’t seem favorable. When obeying God – submitting to what He asks us to do – doesn’t feel like it’s in our best interest, we tell Him, “No,” forsaking Him.

That’s bad enough.

But that’s not all.

We are made to worship, and if we refuse to worship God, we instinctively search out something or someone else to worship. We dig our own cisterns, looking for alternate water. In other words, we go find idols who suit our fancies, the second sin.

  1. Abandon God
  2. Find God Substitute

Yes, I have done this. Recently. The Bible is about me.

God appeals to Israel – to all of us. “Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,” (Jeremiah 2:19).

There comes a point when the rebellious realize their cisterns are broken, their idols don’t satisfy. Indeed, they can’t satisfy. Not fully. Reprecussions from our idolatrous choices begin to show themselves. Our relationship with God is strained. Our relationships with others are breaking. Our days become dark, joyless, evil, and bitter.  And, slowly, we begin to understand it’s because we have no awe of the Lord anymore. We haven’t respected Him or trusted Him. We’ve lost our healthy fear of Him and are no longer motivated by love for Him. We’ve done this.

I’ve done this.

As I read the words, “…you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,” my soul cried out, “Lord! May it never be!” And He whispered, “Kelly… it already was.”

My soul ached. He was right. Just a couple months ago. It already was. I had no awe of the Lord.

Even in the midst of the rebellion, God had tried to warn me of the path I was on. But, like the Israelites, I said, “‘I am not defiled; I have not run after [idols],” even though I knew I had (Jeremiah 2:23). I thought if I didn’t admit my sin was sin, it wouldn’t actually be sin. I could still pretend it was acceptable.

But, finally, Israel and I could no longer deny our sin.  We both exclaimed, “It’s no use! I love foreign gods, and I must go after them,” (Jeremiah 2:25). We made excuses. True, the pull of sin can be strong. We can feel unable to resist temptations.

But we are not powerless! We have the very power that raised Christ from the dead IN US (Romans 8:11). The power of God can help us resist the “foreign gods” we love, but we have to want to resist.

The Bible is about me. And it’s about you, too. Where are you in this story? Are you acting like Israel right now? Stop and feel the weight of your rebellion. Be broken by it.

And then take heart, Jeremiah 3 is coming.



6 thoughts on “How to Commit Idolatry

  1. You are such a good writer! Can’t wait til your dream is realized…you will be awesome at it (well, really you already are!). And with this type of content, it’ll happen. And thanks for the reminder that just because we don’t admit it’s sin, doesn’t mean it’s not sin!! Ugh…how are you in Jeremiah already? I’m still in Isaiah…officially a month behind again.

  2. I remember years ago hearing Larry Crabb expound on this passage. We are capable of an amazing creativity and foolishness at the same time. Because I don’t want to submit to God’s way of doing things (foolishness) I come up with a substitute (creative) source of water (life). Though my substitute initially may seem to satisfy my thirst (let’s just say for the sake of argument that my substitute source of water is making sure people think I’m smart and capable and that I use that to get “love” and when I’m not feeling smart or capable simply pull back and hide), it begins to leak. The regard and love I was hoping to get is now dependent on puling off the mirage that I’m smart and competent, so I have to perform at any cost or you’ll quit respecting me (I mean, whoever is doing this). Foolishness, right? God’s water is better than cistern water and never runs out. Why can’t we seem to learn this?

  3. Thankfully the Bible is all about me, God’s love story from Genesis to Revelation, including the parts where he is trying to move us closer to being like his son.

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