Phlebotomic is a blog experiment that seeks to gather multiple perspectives around a common prompt, which is provided weekly.

Last week's prompt was "Beauty"...

This week's prompt is "Path"...

12 February 2009

Idol: All Except the One

I feel like this topic has been hashed and rehashed in our fellowships so much that almost every believer in the West could tell you that an idol is "anything that takes a place above the Creator of heaven and earth." The word is so, ridiculously inclusive that it almost scares me. In truth, we created beings consistently run up against the problem of idolatry every day.

Trying to escape from idols is like scrambling away from a lion only to run into a bear cave.

We are constantly in danger of making people, places, things, ideas--heck, even gerunds, infinitives, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, pronouns--into idols (If your particular idol doesn't fit into one of the above grammatical categories, just stick it with the 'adverbs'. That's what we English majors do all the time.)

So, I can either spend a grievous amount of time trying to track all of the idols down and avoid or destroy them, living a very paranoid and frenetic life--and subsequently creating that stress for others. Or I can send my soul after the Source of Life, walking so closely to Him that He informs me at the appropriate time whenever I've got a high place that needs to be torn down.

Now, it's a tricky business, though, isn't it? To do what I just said. At the end of 1 John, the author tells his readers, "Little children, guard yourselves from idols." That seems to imply some sort of defensive action. I think maybe John would agree that we need to exalt Jesus just as He is given to us in the Gospels, following Him in simplicity. Many people who later found themselves following false teachings such as Gnosticism were possibly first attracted by all the stories from "extra-curricular" writings about Jesus' life as a young boy, stories that had no particular historical basis but only served to satisfy the curiosity of some. As soon as we add or take away anything from what we know to be true of Jesus as He is presented in the four Gospels, we open ourselves to a whole shmorgishboard of "make-your-own-salad" theology, which usually leads to the acceptance of things we may-not-term-but-are-in-fact idols--topped with an imposingly tart house vinaigrette.

The Suffering Servant had no terrifically handsome features that we should be attracted to Him. When we try to form Him into our ideas of good image, isn't that also idolatry?

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