“I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”
There’s a passage here about the absurdity of idols. Men gather practice their skill, gather materials, use some of them for mundane tasks and out of the rest make idols to worship. With their own hands they fashion this thing made out of a tree they cut down themselves, that they used part of to warm their house. They know what it’s made out of, what it’s worth. They didn’t hold the material itself holy or they wouldn’t have used it for common purposes. They know where it came from, they themselves made it, so how can the possibly believe it has any power of them? Any power greater than their own?
I mean, yeah, I’m pretty sure, I mean I hope that no one ever actually believed the idol itself was the god. I hope they all believed that it was like… the focus of the god? The connection between the god and our physical world? But it still doesn’t make any sense. If the god was so powerful, why did it need a person to make the idol? If the idol is holy, why isn’t the rest of the material?
But think about this, for a minute, to the agnostic, to the atheist, how is christianity supposed to stand out? To someone who does not know our God, they us asking the same questions as everyone else, offering answers to the same problems as everyone else. Our practices look very strange, and we’ve collected our own symbols and icons.
It isn’t enough to say “we aren’t like them.” It’s never enough to say “we aren’t like them.” Words don’t mean anything, not really. We have to live differently. We have be different. And do you know what makes us different? Love.
It’s that simple. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all you mind, with all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.
It’s that second one that makes us different. Every deistic religion in the world is about worship and devotion to the power at the top. It’s living out real genuine love on a daily basis that will demonstrate our distinction.
Our symbols and icons are not holy and do not have any power within them. They can all be surrendered and lost without any repercussions to our faith or our practice. But we are also holy. We are each of us priests serving our God directly, and our lives are to be consecrated to his purpose.
What makes us different? Our faith is not about what we get out of it. It is not about finding the solution to this world, though we do find understanding. It is not about escaping this world, though we will be resurrected. It is not about receiving blessing or power or security or anything else, though our God does promise to care for us. Our faith is about humility, about knowing God for who he is and surrendering to his will for he is holy and just. It is about learning who we were always meant to be and loving as we are loved.
A bit rambly, but these are my reflections on this passage.