Monday, November 25, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 323: Amos 9; Psalm 115; Matthew 17

Substitution is not a solution in our life with God. We do it more often than we think, or are willing to admit. Even when we are assumably at our best, our most sanctified, we can build up idols to substitute for our healthiest relationships with God and with each other. I have seen it in myself, when I get lost in images and metaphors, memories and nostalgia for things that do not feed but titillate. They provide a burst of energy, but in the end are substitutes for our real and substantive growth as people of God. Like a sugar high, they stimulate but it is an illusion of energy and inspiration. Afterward, we crash out, we find that we cannot sustain or support real truth in our lives. We get lost.

An idol, as the psalmist offers, has eyes but cannot see. They have ears, but they cannot hear. They are made, but in the end they cannot make. Yes, we can acknowledge that, but even Peter on the mount in the midst of actually experiencing the transfiguration of Jesus the Christ chooses to place a desire to live then instead of a willingness to continue to move, grow and live in a dynamic and evolving relationship with his teacher, his friend, his Lord.

We can look at scripture and perceive idolatry as a third-party problem for people who have lost their way. Amos holds up that the losses Israel and Judah are going to experience are direct results of their apostasy. Easy enough for us to cluck our tongues and say, "Isn't that sad." Still, in that resort to judgment and condemnation on our part, we forget that it is our own idolatries that we are ultimately responsible for in our walk with God in this life. The object lessons of others may teach and inform, but it is only when we learn the difference between and idol and God that we begin to mature.

And that is a life-long challenge.

"This is my son, my Beloved, listen to him," says the Voice from the clouds. Are we willing to do just that? Are we willing to lay down the many and sundry distractions and substitutions for God that we fill our lives with in order to feel "full" in the same way we consume sugar instead of real food?


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