Why do the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in heaven;
he does whatever pleases him.
But their idols are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
Reflection: Jesus with Axe and Fire
By John Tillman
Ancient idols of silver and gold seem so simple, pagan, and foolish. How could people have fallen for them? Today our idols are more likely to be rose-gold and come with an upgraded camera and a processor marginally faster than last years’.
Modern people are often guilty of shaking our heads at how quaint ancients must have been, worshiping their idols of stone, wood, and gold, not realizing how similar to them we are. We worship brands, companies, and CEOs with fervor equal to the most ardent of ancient adherents of Baal or Asherah. We give our money, adulation, and adoration to the brands that fit our aspirations and our ideals. We are, at times, more faithful to brands than to our churches or to our spouses. We wear their symbols on our clothing and follow their CEOs on Twitter, hanging on their every word.
We’d probably be better off worshiping actual idols of wood and stone than the brands that pander to us, telling us how smart we are to purchase their products. At least the wooden idols are truly dumb and unable to speak. The so-called wisdom we glean from CEOs often only leads us to invest further in consumerism rather than community.
The problem with our idols is they are all internalized. Our external devices are merely manifestations of our self-love. We could throw away every piece of technology and still slavishly worship pride, consumerism, and comfort.
When Israel was commanded to cut down and burn Asherah poles there was a tangible, physical step. To burn out of our souls our preoccupation with ourselves we require a different kind of axe and a different kind of fire. Thankfully, Jesus stands ready to supply both. John the Baptist describes a Christ who stands ready with both axe and fire.
May we ask him regularly to cut down our idols. May he burn out of our souls impurity and selfish desires. May he baptize us in fire, making of us a light for the world and a spark to ignite God’s love in our communities.
Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, asking: “How can you believe, since you look to each other for glory and are not concerned with the glory that comes from the one God?” — John 5.44
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
Deuteronomy 24 (Listen – 3:21)
Psalm 114-115 (Listen – 2:18)
Thank you to our donors who support our readers by making it possible to continue The Park Forum devotionals. This year, The Park Forum audiences opened 200,000 free, and ad-free, devotional content. Follow this link to join our donors with a one-time or a monthly gift.
Read more about Lamenting Materialism
In ancient agrarian society if you worshiped a sun god or a fertility goddess or a god of weather or a god of bountiful harvest you were worshiping a god of financial success. It is akin to our worship of stock performance or financial forecasts or political economic policies.
Read more about In Denial about Greed and Power
If there is anything that can still be shocking in today’s world, it is that we still don’t fully admit or understand the destructive nature of the sins of greed and power.