"Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me; There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god. I am the Lord thy God which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." (Psalm 81:8-10)
What is it that gets your attention and keeps it? Anything from fear to, not hope but anxiety, to obsession. All along the spectrum that God freely provides do things of tangibility or intangibility seek to wrest and arrest our attention from Our Father Who Art In Heaven. Keep this in mind as all of the positives of the aforementioned spectrum are resident in God the Father. They both originate from His heart and emanate from there into the world, as well. But where then, for the believer in Jesus Christ do any of the negative perceptions of God come? We know that God is our Heavenly Father but do we really know Him? How can there be, alongside this newfound Father-child relationship anything that would keep us from looking Him full in the face and throwing our arms around His neck in embrace?
"Who told thee that thou wast naked?" (Genesis 3:11)
Idols of the King
Idolatry takes many forms. If you've read up till here from part one of this series, you've seen ancient idolatry in the form of Pagan gods, simple objects and even our brothers and sisters in Christ. But what about an idol in the form of a wrong perception of the Father? That's a new one. One of the most important life lessons to learn, in my opinion, is that of seeing the Father as Jesus saw Him. As the most loving and kind and awesome person you'd ever want to meet but that is actually closer to you than you ever dreamed possible.
"And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man (or woman) love God, the same is known of Him. As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one." (1 Corinthians 8:2-4, emphasis mine)
A wrong perception as to God's true character could come from anywhere. From peers to parents and anyone in between. Pastors and mentors and any number of figures who mean well but don't know the Father as do you. You may be childlike in your faith and understanding. But this doesn't mean your heart isn't in sync with the Father's. As Paul writes in the above passage, it's the jumping-the-gun that we as humans tend to do that prevent, not just us from truly understanding any topic, but that also prevent God from knowing us. God the Father knows the hairs on your head and every last minute detail (how do you think He's able to do for you the little things He does?) about your person. But does He really know you? Do you know Him? Keep pressing in.
King of the monsters
"For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him:" (Psalm 55:12)
When I was a kid, I fell in love with the old image of Godzilla from the fifties. This giant monster leveling buildings and breathing fire and destroying the destroyer. I even had a dream about him. While he didn't show in the dream, he made his presence known. I'll explain. It's the middle of the night and I find myself, wheelchair bound, on one of my neighborhood streets. My friends are standing by, I presume having rolled me up to where I was. The feeling of helplessness and paralysis was not pleasant, rendering this dream more of a nightmare, really. But we're all there and the wind is blowing. At about this time, my four or five friends and I hear something akin to the Tyrannosaur from Jurassic Park (though this dream would have happened in the late eighties—predating that movie, as did Gojira any terrible lizards from pre-history) slowly stomping towards us. It dawns on me that it's Godzilla though I can't see him. At this point, my friends up and abandon me, leaving me at the mercy of the approaching monster. My physical paralysis turns to a fear-based one and it's then that the dream ends. This dream haunted me for years. It wasn't until recently—coinciding with the release in May of the remake—that I really saw what the dream meant. If you've ever seen either the original or the remake from 2014 (forget the 1999 version), you know that Godzilla isn't the bad guy. And neither is God, ever. For whatever reason, I had never put this together.
"Now concerning spiritual gifts brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led." (1 Corinthians 12:1-2)
"So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him." (Deuteronomy 32:12)