I have made the mistake of looking for true messengers instead of looking for true messages. This subtle difference in focus has led to idolatry.
I speak of my own idolatry and what I'm learning as I repent and change. It is so easy to fall into idolatry and worship something or someone which is not God. The first definition of idolatry that came up on google is:
- worship of idols
- extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone.
Here is the Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary definition.
1. The worship of idols, images, or any thing made by hands, or which is not God.
Idolatry is of two kinds; the worship of images, statues, pictures, etc. made by hands; and the worship of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon and stars, or of demons, angels, men and animals.
2. Excessive attachment or veneration for any thing, or that which borders on adoration.
The form of idolatry I have been most susceptible to is extreme admiration, love, or reverence for someone.
Why have I been susceptible to this form of idolatry?
Because someone has money . . .
or fame . . .
or power . . .
or position . . .
or knowledge . . .
or experience . . .
or confidence . . .
or spiritual gifts . . .
or a connection with heaven . . .
or love . . .
or . . .
It's easy to have extreme admiration, love, or reverence for someone, especially when that person has something, some quality, or some experience I am lacking. It is easier to idolize someone I can see and touch than to worship the God who I do not see or touch. Yet, I am left with an empty feeling when I give way to idolatry. No one or no thing can ever replace the fulfillment, peace, and joy that comes from true worship of the living God.
Part of my weakness has been feeling I need someone's help in my journey back to God, and it is true enough that I do need help, but I trust God will send the help when I am ready and when I need it. “When the student is ready the teacher appears.” Those teachers come in all shapes and sizes, and they often come in the form of mortals. But if a mortal or angel from heaven is sent to deliver a message from God, should I admire or reverence that being? NO!!!
John, who still resides on and ministers to those on this earth as a translated being, had to also learn this lesson.
And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. . . (Revelation 19:9-13)
A servant came with a true message, and John fell at his feet to worship him. The messenger said, “See thou do it not.” Following this, a glorious vision of our Lord was opened to John. The servant/messenger came and did what God asked him to do, but it wasn't because of the messenger that John received the vision, it was because of God.
It is so easy to admire, love, or reverence the messenger that comes from God. I have looked at my experience and understood my idolatry at a new level. When a true message is delivered, I feel God. I like that feeling. I'm tempted to associate that feeling with the messenger who stands before me instead of God who is the author of the message.
No matter the experience, knowledge, or gifts of others, no one is more special than another. There is no reason to admire or reverence anyone or anything except God. God is no respecter of persons, and I think it wise to follow His example.
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Acts 10:34-35)
It is the message that matters not the messenger. The most lowly and unnoticed among us can come with a true message that should be considered, and the most revered and trusted can come with a false message that ought to be rejected. It is easy to be lifted in pride and fall prey to idolatry.
I do not point my finger at the idolater because the sin has been in me. I am in process of repenting and seeing things in a brighter light.
What is the new paradigm my heart is learning?
- I see all others as equals with me. No one is more special or less special than another. It does not matter what they've done, said, or experienced, they are my equal.
- I consider the message that is delivered because of the message not because of the messenger.
- I trust God, and only God. He is my teacher, He is my Savior, and He sets up and orchestrates every lesson along my path of increased happiness, joy, and peace.
- My journey is unique. I follow the path God has laid out for me, and trust that everyone else is doing the same thing. My journey is between God and me. I am grateful when I cross paths with others and experience the joy of God together, but my attachment is to God not to the mortals or immortals with whom I associate.
- I love others because to love and serve each other is to know God.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25
I am grateful for my experiences as an idolater because I have learned that idolatry brings misery, sadness, longing, doubt, and instability. I cannot say I have repented of idolatry just because I see a new level of idolatry that I had not comprehended; because whenever I think I have been enlightened and come out of the dark, I find there is still a greater light to be comprehended. But seeing how to more fully repent of idolatry has brought me greater peace and freedom.