Stands for Something (The Spectrum of Idolatry part 8)

“Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and He that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and taketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish.” (Isaiah 44:24-25)


Taking a cue from this chapter in Isaiah (probably the one you’ve read if you’ve read one passage on idolatry in the Bible—at least the Old Testament), think about your index, your dictionary, your lexicon, your bookshelf and/or reading list. What symbols or otherwise intangible pieces of data or information do you look to for some sort of soul substantiation? What is it that you look to when you feel a void in your personhood? And did you judge that book by its cover? Real quick, if you haven't read up 'til this point in the series, I highly recommend it. Because as this is “The Spectrum of Idolatry”—and I hate to sound gimmicky or cliched—there is always something that’s going to try and divert your attention from a very real, yet very invisible, God who is more present than anything lining your bookshelf or floating through the ether and taking up space in your mind. In other words, information

“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17)

Again with the question at hand, though. If the Lord, “the only wise God,” is going to be preeminent in our hearts as well as our minds (see Mark 12:30), what could we be doing or, God forbid, worshiping, to the neglect of letting Him be our all in all? The Pharisees figured that an accretion and accruing of letters and lists and tomes and tomes of conflated rules (presumably having memorized the things contained therein) ensured that they were closer to God than others. They literally sought to wrap their mind around God without allowing Him to change their heart. 

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” (John 5:39-40, emphasis mine)

I have a large bookshelf. Had it for a while and I really love its minimalist simplicity (metal and particle board), if only for the fact that it belies what I might haughtily think is an eclecticism and well-rounded curiosity. Two of the shelves are two rows of books deep! And this is good. Point to “Umberto Eco’s Antilibrary” (see Taleb’s Black Swan—which I haven’t finished) and see what it means to have a collection of works that are like the full harvest to a node of curiosity budding in one’s mind. But I digress. The hard truth to this is that most of those books do not have God in them, believe it or not. And in fact may have been written by an individual who does not even hold or live from a worldview that includes God (I don’t know this for a fact). Sadly, vast as some worldviews may indeed be, one that does not include God is not only wrong but worse than a mirage and is only going to detract, dilute and divert from—there it is again—a very real and very invisible God that has already been revealed to the world in the form of a human named Jesus Christ, enough of whom has been elucidated in the pages of scripture.


“And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” (John 1:16)

This isn’t a clarion call to divest and cull and otherwise get rid of stuff (I recently donated a bunch of books I knew I’d never read, Black Swan survived, however) in a rampant rush to ensure everything on the outside is in concert with God when in fact the issues of the heart or far more pressing to Him. And notice: any acquisition of knowledge is purely mental and therefore cannot touch you where Jesus can. Paul says (1 Corinthians 8:1, my emphasis):

“Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity (love) edifieth.” 

See, knowledge can be an idol. I think that’s what Paul is alluding to. Knowledge is essential; without knowledge, there is no way we can make it through this life and do the things that God has called us to do. But knowledge necessarily stands for something. Something that Jesus will freely give if only we’d ask politely (you may very well be in possession of it and be unaware). If we are looking to replace the person of Jesus Christ with some piece of knowledge or information or even wisdom, then we will be led astray and will have invested attention (and therefore worship) in something that is not alive nor loves us. Jesus is all that and more, ladies and gentlemen.

“That their hearts may be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:2-3)

In closing, may I humbly suggest praying through your influences, good as they may be, to see if there’s something the Holy Spirit would put His finger on that is keeping Him from truly filling that place in your soul (or heart, or even mind).


That Word

Arable Parable