I think it was the great “philosopher” Yogi Berra who said, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” In his unique way, he said something that is really true.
The following thought may not be quite as profound as that, but I think that it is also true. I think one can hear a lot just be listening. It might be a bit more accurate to suggest that a person can learn a lot just by listening.
It seems that real listening is happening less and less. All you have to do is to watch and listen to some of the “talking heads” on cable news channels. They all talk at the same time. Nobody seems to be really listening to anybody else’s point of view. Each person seems to be intent on presenting his or her own point of view as loudly and as forcefully (and sometimes as rudely) as they can.
Fortunately, I was listening to one of my fellow elders a little while back. I’m glad I was not trying to talk while he was talking. I’m also glad I wasn’t distracted to the point that I did not catch something he said.
He was talking about the sin of idolatry. Specifically, he was talking about people in the Bible who made their own idols and worshiped them.
He then said this (and I’m pretty sure this is word-for-word):
“Their idols were intentional. Ours just kind of sneak up on us.”
I believe that he is right about that.
I know he was right about the first part. We do, in fact, read in the Bible about people and nations who built “gods” and foolishly worshiped them.
Sadly, there are people and places today where exactly the same thing is done. Years ago, I made two mission trips to India. Unless you have been there yourself, you cannot fully comprehend how many idols, temples, altars, etc. there are in that nation.
I think that most of us know that India is only one nation where this is a normal and accepted way of life. It would be impossible to know for sure how many millions of people live and worship lifeless idols.
However, as sad as that it, it was the second part of his statement that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about recently. I’m wondering if it would also be impossible to know how many people worship idols that “sneak up on us.” Those “idols” and those people are the ones that concern me the most. I even wonder if I might see one of those people when I look in the mirror.
I recently was asked to speak on priorities. While working on that lesson, I came across a quote that is both simple and profound at the same time.
Our priorities are best reflected by how we spend our time.
I think that the quote could be “tweaked” a little to reflect what my brother had in mind when he made his statement. Here are some “tweaks” that come to mind.
Our idols are those things (and people) with which (whom) we spend the greatest amount of time.
Our idols are those things (and people) which (who) consume the bulk of our resources.
Our idols are those things (and people) about which (whom) we are most excited.
Our idols are those things (and people) to which (whom) we are the most loyal.
I suppose the list could go on and on, but I think that those statements are enough to prompt some self-examination. I know it has caused me to do some of that.
My brother’s statement helped to make me a little more alert to some real dangers. I’ve always known that God will not accept any place other than first place in my life. I’ve been reminded that I need to be alert to those “sneaky idols” that could cost me my soul.
I love my wife, my children, their spouses, and my grandchildren. I have some very good friends with whom I enjoy spending time. I am very thankful to live in the society in which I live and the freedoms and rights I have merely because I am a citizen of the United States of America. I am thankful for those who have defended those freedoms and rights in the past and those who continue to do so today. I am grateful to have so many modern conveniences and opportunities for both employment and recreation. I am grateful for my education and the financial resources with which I have been blessed.
However, I need to be careful to not let any or all of that come between my Father and me. If I do, I might as well build an altar on which to offer a sacrifice or erect a statue and bow down to it.
How about you? Have any idols “sneaked up” on you?
AUTHOR: Jim Faughn
Photo background credit: pavan on Creative Commons