By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (21st Aug 2013)
“Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and set the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces. Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them? (Ezekiel 14:3)
We have embarked on a very long journey walking through the ‘Counterfeit Gods’ poems which were inspired by one of Timothy Keller’s bestselling books. Let us now take a step back and reflect on the discoveries that we have made throughout that journey. The sinful human heart is an idol factory which is actively and constantly manufacturing numerous assorted idols. God in his great mercy sent his most beloved Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to take on the punishment of our sins upon the cross. We are unworthy sinners who turned away from God and deserved his judgment of eternal death in hell. But God loved us too much to leave us hanging by a thread. As unlovable and undeserving as we are, God chose to forsake his precious only Son for us so that we who believe in the atoning death of Jesus Christ could be ushered into the Kingdom of Heaven as his beloved children. Are we then still holding on to our idolatrous desires instead of surrendering them to the one true God? Have we been taking Jesus for granted and investing too much hope in the false gods of our lives?
Although counterfeit gods come in many forms, we have examined a handful of common idols such as love, money, success and power. We have seen how the quest and yearning for human love above God’s can lead to a downward spiral of idolatrous obsession, disillusionment and futility in the lives of Jacob and Leah. We have looked at how the amassing of wealth to the point of sacrificing one’s dignity, family and nation can lead to emptiness and isolation in the life of Zacchaeus. We have come to realize the stark limitations of success in bringing true relief and hope in the life of Naaman. Last but not least, I believe that our eyes have been unveiled to the fact of how we, like Nebuchadnezzar, stubbornly refuse to acknowledge God as the King of our lives but instead strive to build our own fragile kingdoms.
After having read and written much about the idols of the heart, I do not claim to have perfected the art of casting those counterfeit gods away. It is one thing to grasp intellectual knowledge and another matter to live out that knowledge. It is not the mastering of a set of techniques or the reliance on one’s will power that will crush the proliferating false gods of our lives. The expulsion of an idol will create a void which will eventually be replaced with another idol. We cannot weed out idols and leave the soil of our hearts empty in hopes that we would be completely rid of counterfeit gods. What we need is the seed of the gospel to be sown, with God’s love, into our hearts. We need to come as broken sinners before the cross of Jesus Christ and say: ‘I know there are too many idols deeply rooted in my heart which I cannot, with my own strength and dexterity, uproot. But may this love that I have for you grow in magnitude each day until it surpasses the love I hold for false gods. May my love for you be so deeply rooted in the gospel of grace that it will be able to uproot the vain idols of my heart. I know that the uprooting process will be a lifelong and painful one but please help me to seek the relief that comes after that. Amen.’
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:3-5)
For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thessalonians 1:9)