Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gargoyles & Idols ~ 2

A good Sunday morning to you all! The weather is once again cold, but sunny here. There is so much going on in the world that I believe we have to steep our hearts and minds in God's word to find our way. And so today  I'm going to put a finer point on the lesson from Chapter 25 of Meeting God in Quiet Places: the Cotswold Parables by F. LaGard Smith, simply because there are so many good thoughts to be had about worshiping idols. There are gods we don't recognize--money, food, television, sports, politics, or maybe even a religion that doesn't have much to do with God--anything that you put in the place of the one true God.

That has always been the problem. Think of Moses, who had delivered the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt by parting the Red Sea, as he was on the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. The Israelites were down below, worshiping a golden calf! And then there's Isaiah, who talked about a man who worshiped a god, which--like the gargoyles--he had made himself. Here is the scene he portrayed:
Half of the wood he burns in the fire;
over it he prepares his meal, he roasts
his meat and eats his fill. He also warms
himself and says, "Ah! I am warm; I see
the fire." From the rest he makes a god,
his idol; he bows down to it and worships.
He prays to it and says, "Save me; you are my god."

Does this man in Isaiah have something in common with the men who put gargoyles on churches? They don't see that there isn't any security in any god that they have created themselves--that they are trusting in their own weakness! LaGard has something to say about this, and I quote: "Never in our own time have paganism and Christian faith been so muddled together! Never have we as a society been more keen to hedge our spiritual bets, whether through the pluralistic acceptance of all religions, or through worshiping Mammon, the god of shopping malls, or even for literally worshiping ourselves!"
What is the end result? These "faith-substitutes" take us backward to ignorance, superstition, and spiritual darkness. And listen to LaGard's evaluation: "Given their ability to deceive us into thinking that we are secure when we are not, our gargoyles are more grotesque and menacing than we might ever imagine! Worst of all, they drain away our faith, leaving us more alone and fearful than ever before." That isn't a good prospect, is it? We end up trusting in our own fearful emptiness.
  Do you trust other gods or the power that created this?
So where can we put our faith and trust? We can be like the psalmist David, who proclaimed, "I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust'." And when we trust in God alone, there is no terror too great, no illness that we can't face, nothing in this world can happen to us that we can't overcome. Gargoyles in whatever form are empty and powerless and cannot save us. But in sublime contrast, our God is alive and offers security and salvation!

Have a wonderful day, but give some thought to whether you have built up idols in your life. If you have, take time to destroy them and trust in God.


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