One of my dreams was to be an archaeologist. Maybe it was the lure of digging in dirt, or the fascination with history. I have always been drawn to learning about the past and applying those things to today. Thursday I stepped back in time, about 3000 years. Matthew and I had the privilege of going to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia to see the Dead Sea Scrolls which are on their last week of display there. In addition to the scrolls, there were ancient artifacts, pottery, jewelry, household objects and such. It was amazing to say the least.
And we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
One section of the tour included a large collection of “household gods” found in ancient Israelite homes. It gave a glimpse into what really was happening there, inside the homes of people who supposedly were not to have any other gods before the One True God. I found it interesting to read this description of what was expected of the Israelites. It bespoke of hypocrisy. I thought how very little has changed in the homes and hearts of Christ-followers. We go to church and we put on our handy, happy, plastic faces. We mask the pain of bad choices. We even change the wording of sin to make it not sound as bad. I like food. Cars are my thing. I might need this one day. It was too good a deal not to buy! We have an excessive addition to stuff. Just like those household gods which littered ancient homes, what is literally under our beds, in our cupboards, and filling our storage? This a serious issue, and one that has been plaguing the hearts of God’s followers for thousands of years.
The dictionary defines idolatry as an immoderate attachment or devotion to something. If we’re honest with ourselves, we can all probably say there is one, if not more, places in our homes that hold “stuff” we just can’t give up. We might not have touched it for a few years, but it’s still staying. Stuff has such an allure. It gets moldy. It burns. It rusts. It decays. Yet it still wraps its invisible chains around our hearts so that we can’t let it go. We can be so enslaved to stuff, that we buy it even when we can’t afford it. For some of us, this has cost us a great deal more than the initial dollar amount. Our relationship with stuff has taken such precedence over our relationship with God, that when He nudges us to give some of it away, we balk. Or when He tells us to give away the very means that would allow us to buy more stuff (aka: money), we really balk. We then start a vicious cycle between our hearts and God’s, where the two can’t truly connect, and we stop listening to His voice. We stop listening to His voice, because we’re scared He might tell us to do something uncomfortable. Like give. Or release. Or repent. Or a great many other things which in actuality bring us such freedom and peace! The father of lies is working overtime to distort God’s voice so that we don’t hear Him saying the simple things.
I can’t help but wonder what those archaeologists thought when they found those artifacts. These small clay figures clashed with the God the people of Israel supposedly loved. I wonder if it made God seem not as amazing as He really is? If a piece of clay could allure them, then what kind of God did they really worship? I wonder the same thing today. Do our lives make people wonder if God is worth knowing? He certainly is better than any earthly thing, yet we store up so many treasures that onlookers really don’t see much difference between their lifestyles and ours. In the New Testament the early Christians gave as each one had need. That means, if your friend didn’t have enough food but you did, you brought them a meal. It means that if your car broke down and your friend had two, he gave you his other car. They looked to God for their needs, and He in turn used His followers to meet those needs. It was different from the way everyone else lived. It was noticeable.
There should be no doubt in people’s minds when they look at us that we love the God we serve so much, we put nothing above Him.