They have mouths, but they cannot speak. They have eyes, but they cannot see. They have ears, but they cannot hear. They have noses, but they cannot smell. They have hands, but they cannot feel. They have feet, but they cannot walk. They cannot even make a sound with their throats. Those who make idols end up like them. So does everyone who trusts them. – Psalm 115:5-8
You become like the things that you worship. This is true when we talk about idols, which is what this psalm refers to. Although we shape our idols to look like us, they are but mere shadows and it doesn’t take long until we discover that our idols don’t work – that all the pieces and parts we’ve given them don’t function the way that we imagined that they would. Success doesn’t secure us any more than the mouth on a statue can speak on its own. Wealth doesn’t make us happy any more than riches pour out of a hand that doesn’t move.
It’s rare for us to have idols in our homes any more. At least, it’s rare for us to set up statues in the image of anything, physical representations that we choose to worship. It happens from time to time, but our greatest trouble is not our idols; it’s the image we have of our God.
For many of us, we have come to believe that the God that we worship is no fundamentally different than the idols of the nations in the Old Testament. He has a mouth, but He doesn’t speak. Not to us. Not any more. He has eyes, but He doesn’t see anything with them. The wickedness of this world seems to slip right past Him. He has ears, but He doesn’t hear our prayer; at least, He’s not answering the way we want Him to. He has a nose, but He no longer smells a pleasing aroma of our sacrifice. He has hands, but He doesn’t reach them out to us. He has feet, but He no longer walks among His people. He no longer even makes a sound.
We believe that God is who He says He is, but we’ve taken and put Him so far in the Heavens that for us, He’s nothing more than an image. He’s nothing more than an idea. We put His Cross around our necks, but rarely, if ever, do we think of Him on it. The God that we worship has become nothing more than a statue of His former self, a God created and shaped by our own hands. He has become an idol, unable to help us this side of eternity.
That’s bad enough, but the most haunting truth of this reality is that it’s proven for us the truth of this psalm – those who make idols end up like them.
We have become Christians who have mouths, but we don’t speak. We don’t speak up about the injustices in the world, thinking they aren’t our problem or that we can’t make a difference. We have eyes, but we close them to all the things we don’t want to see. We have ears, but we’re not listening. We refuse to hear the voices of those who disagree with us. We have noses, but we seem not to smell the sacrifices that ought to bring us joy. We have hands, but we keep them firmly in our pockets. We have feet, but we’ve propped them up on the coffee table. We are a people created to change the world, and we no longer make a sound in it.
We are beings created in the image of God, and we have remade ourselves into the image of our idol of Him. We have put Him so far in the heavens that He’s impotent on earth, and in doing so, we have made ourselves just as impotent. No longer are we changing the world. No. Now, we’re simply tolerating it until that glorious day when we get to leave it all behind and go to where our God is truly living, to where we will truly live.
That’s not the life we were meant to live. That’s not the life that God has called us to. He is no mere idol, and He’s not impotent here. Nor were we meant to be. Let us remember that God is living and active, even here, even now, and let us be a people living and active ourselves.
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