by Hannah Danielson Doria
You know the story—the one about the Israelites exile, right? These chosen people of God knew that their forefather had been promised to not only become a nation as great as the stars but also a great inheritance of land. This was God’s oath to Abraham. Their entire existence was based upon these promises. Yet, after experiencing God’s faithfulness and entering the long-awaited land, the Israelites quickly began forgetting God and broke the number one commandment to not have ANY other gods but Yahweh Himself. As a result, their ancient promises became a distant dream.
By God’s grace, the Israelites did eventually return to the Promised Land, but what was the problem and what was their mistake? Idolatry.
I’m no Biblical scholar, but one can clearly see how, prior to the exile, God shows the Israelites over and over again their idolatrous behavior and how they have forgott
en Him and worshipped other gods (Jer. 1:6-8, 13, 19, 28; 3:1-2, 21, etc.). This greatly grieved God.
I don’t know about you, but I have found myself in several situations realizing that I, too, have idols. Mine aren’t obvious statues, but rather people, fears, and situations. Jimmy Needham says it perfectly in his beautifully written song “Clear the Stage”:
Anything I put before my God is an idol,
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol,
And anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol,
And anything that I give all my love is an idol.
Put in those in terms, you may find that idol worship is a big part of culture today. Writer and Theologian Frederick Buechner may give you a clearer portrait of what idolatry looks like:
“Idolatry is the practice of ascribing absolute value to things of relative worth…to make [it] the standard by which all other values are measured, to make them your masters, to look to them to justify your life and save your soul…”(Wishful Thinking, pg. 49)
One of my greatest idols is fear of what people think about me—specifically when I am singing or leading worship; it gets in the way of my worshipping God. It has, at times, become a master and taken God’s place.
Have you recognized any of your own idols? I believe that many of us can fall into a place of idolatry in leading worship. Whether it is the idol of arrogance, personal preferences, or fear, there can be something holding us back from putting Him first.
What are you putting before God in your worship and in your daily life and how is it possible that could give ourselves to God but hold back? All he wants is our hearts. He wants all of us and all of us completely; to be first in our lives.
He continues to pursue us the way He pursued the Israelites; we have a choice to make Him first or not. Let us not be bound by the chains of idolatry. It says in Galatians 5:1, “For it is for freedom that Christ has set you free.” Let us enjoy the freedom of having Him first in our lives—nothing else will compare to His love, and no idol can fill his place!
I conclude with one of my favorite worship songs titled “I Will Exalt” featuring Amanda Falk (look it up if you have not listened to it) it has the most beautiful bridge and I ask that you would contemplate its words:
“There will be NO ONE like you, and NO ONE beside YOU alone are worthy of my praise.”
Let it be so.