This past weekend Seth, Griff, and I rode down and visited with Yates and Alyson in Tallahassee. And, yes, coincidentally there was a football game in town that weekend and yes, we were there. It started out a bit rainy but soon after the game started the rain stopped and everything was great ... except for one thing. Perched on the edge of the seat right next to me was an enormous creature of some sort that stayed there the whole game. This thing looked violent and prehistoric. Everyone in our area was enamored with it.
Along with some other men, my first thought was to smash it with a shoe or something. But the emphatic instruction from several women caused us not to touch it, lest it become angry and attack us and our children, likely bringing great harm and death to many as it launched its brutal assault against us defenseless humans. I guess they thought we weren't manly enough to handle such a creature so we just left it there ... mainly curious to see just what it would do. And it didn't do anything! Just sat there with minimal movement for the entire game ... yet continued its control over the hearts and minds of many in attendance.
There were 3-4 ladies who literally couldn't pay attention to the game because they were so absolutely enamored with this bug. They constantly looked at it ... the look in their eyes indicated fear in their heart ... and if even the smallest fly or moth actually did touch them they would shriek and assume they had been attacked by this demonic creature. Even after 3-4 hours when everyone was leaving at the end of the game, this bug was still the center of attention for many.
Idols have the same effect on us as this bug. Even though we're attempting to pay attention to something much greater (that would be our God and redeemer, Jesus Christ) we simply can't take our eyes off the idol. Our minds are consumed with it and we're literally unable to adequately focus on Jesus.
We all know what would have solved the problem with the bug ... just kill it when we first saw it and be done with it so everyone can focus on the game. But instead of enjoying the game many were too distracted by the bug. The same solution applies to idols ... just destroy them when we encounter them so that we won't be so distracted as we seek to worship and enjoy Jesus Christ. It's no wonder that's what God called Israel to do as they entered the promised land (Ex 23:24; 34:13; Num 33:52; Deut 7:5). But rather than getting rid of idols we'd rather flirt with them, believing they'll really not do us any harm. Sort of like how we dealt with the bug.
It was much more fun to hang a peanut shell on its arm rather than just kill it. Unfortunately we often deal lightly with idols, playing with them, flirting with them, making jokes about them. It's one thing to do that with a bug at a football game but quite another to do that with an idol that distracts our heart from focusing on Christ. Let's commit to deal harshly with our sin rather then flirt with it.
In this Sunday's passage, 1 Samuel 14:24-52, we will find Saul behaving very foolishly and not taking his own sin very seriously. His idol is himself and his reputation. He's likely sensing that his popularity is slipping away and is determined to regain it through whatever means. Please read this text and come to worship prepared to wrestle with the idol of self.