THANK GOD FOR RENEWAL after a rough and rainy week! What a difference a couple of good nights' sleeps makes, as well as exercise, healthy eating, detachment and of course prayer. Thank you for your prayers. I'm back in business and will put a Sunday post below soon. Best of all---there must be some mistake---the sun is actually shining brightly early this Sunday morning!
FROM TIM KELLER'S NEW BOOK, COUNTERFEIT GODS:
Money can become a spiritual addiction, and like all addictions it hides its true proportions from its victims. We take more and greater risks to get an ever diminishing satisfaction from the thing we crave, until a breakdown occurs. When we begin to recover, we ask, "What were we thinking? How could we have been so blind?" We wake up like people with a hangover who can hardly remember the night before. But why did we act so irrationally?" Why did we so completely lose sight of what is right?
The Bible's answer is that the human heart is an "idol factory."
When most people think of "idols" they have in mind literal statues---or the next pop star anointed by Simon Crowell. Yet while traditional idol worship still occurs in many places in the world, internal idol worship, within the heart, is universal.
In Ezekiel 14:3, God is saying that the human heart takes good things like success, love and romance, material possessions and even family, and turns them into ultimate things that come before God. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because, we think, they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfillment, if we attain them.
The central plot device of "The Lord of the Rings" is the Dark Lord Sauron's Ring of Power, which corrupts anyone who tries to use it, however good his or her intentions. The ring is what Professor Tom Shippey calls a "psychic amplifier," which takes the heart's fondest desires and magnifies them to idolatrous proportions.
Some good characters in the book want to liberate slaves, or preserve their people's lands, or visit wrongdoers with just punishment. These are all good objectives. But the Ring makes them willing to do anything to achieve them, anything at all.
The Ring turns the good thing into an absolute that overturns every other allegiance or value. The wearer of the Ring becomes increasingly enslaved and addicted to it, for an idol is something we cannot live without. We must have it, and therefore it drives us to break rules we once honored, to harm others and even ourselves in order to get it.
Idols are spiritual addictions that lead to terrible evil, in Tolkien's novel and real life.
I'll continue to post on this book next weekend and several weeks after.