In the girls’ Bible study I lead, we are going through the book of Isaiah. One of the themes we repeatedly discussed is false gods. The Israelites supplemented their worship of God with worship of so many others. Many people have written on the danger of idols in life including the more recent book Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller. These writers offer helpful insight into identifying the gods of money, love, success, fame, etc. which occupy our thoughts and actions. Truly, we all struggle with giving more time and effort to these pursuits than to God. However, I believe the number one false god in our lives is ourselves.
So much of our society encourages worship of self. First, there is our body. We use diets, exercise, supplements, essential oils, and creams to mold our bodies into the perfect body—the young, fit, healthy, beautiful ideal. Either we succeed and take delight in securing the admiration of others, or we fail and grasp at some validation by advertising instead our unique, “authentic” beauty. Enter social media and selfies—perfect examples of this plea for others to endorse our value!
Second, there is our ideology. Relativism dominates society’s thinking. This is a symptom of each individual’s desire to be right. No one wants to answer to another. This has encouraged the moral decline. However, at the same time, social media and blogs are the battlefield for heated debates. Why? Because despite relativism, we strive to convince others we hold the right opinion out of the many. The pinnacle of self-worship is when we secure the worship of others.
Third, there is our time. This is twofold. One, we busy ourselves in order to feel productive and important. This is another demonstration to draw others’ recognition. Two, since we are busy, we are very possessive of our time. Most notably in my generation is the lack of commitment to plans. We are consumed with fear that we will miss out on something we would rather participate in due to some prior commitment. On the flip side, when we initiate plans with others, it has to be in the time slots we are available. Dare something unforeseen ruin our tight schedules, and we are incited!
These are just three general illustrations of how self-worship pervades our lives. Self-worship typically leads to miserable, selfish people who end up alone and unsatisfied with life. Nobody wants that. Thankfully there is a better way—worshiping the true, Triune God.
Worshiping God looks different and brings better outcomes. Take the three examples above. In worshiping God, we honor him by stewarding our bodies. However, at the same time, Jesus explicitly tells us not to worry about them in Matthew 6. He also cares far more about the heart than physical appearance—take David for example in 1 Samuel 16. Finally, God created us and thus there is comfort in knowing that we are beautiful to him.
When we worship God, we also acknowledge his way as the right way—not ours. This is the hardest one for me. It takes humility to let go and obey. However, as we learn to live holy lives as servants, we find joy and fulfillment.
Finally, time. When God is in control of our lives, we have to be flexible. Often we won’t know what he is calling us to do until the moment is at hand. This requires holding our agendas loosely and valuing others over ourselves. This is contrary to the standards of the world, but it is the right way—the way to true joy, true meaning, and true fulfillment.
As I encourage my girls, we all need to put aside our supplemental gods and wholly devote our lives, our thoughts, our actions to the one, true God.