One of the Church’s greatest voices in the 20th century was a professor at the Oxford; his name was C.S. Lewis. His most renowned work is called, ‘Mere Christianity’ where Lewis presents the Christian faith as the only intelligible option for the world; all else is utter foolishness. And it is within the context of such a work that we see Lewis speak of the demands of Christ. Lewis writes, “Christ says, ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you.”
Jesus, the Lord of all existence, demands not merely a portion of you but all of you. God’s desire for the entirety of His people is the core of the Christian faith: God desires a holy people for Himself. Our God is jealous for His people. Jealous, not like an ignorant child, but jealous like a husband for His beloved bride.
God, through His second commandment of the Law, found in the book of Exodus 20:4-6, warns us to never setup an idol, a statue, a drawing or painting attempting to depict Him. When we hear of this commandment, perhaps we think God is camera shy, but the reality of the commandment lies in this idea, our God is unlike anything we’ve ever seen or will see in this world. We find out that nothing else in creation is worthy of our heart and devotion like God. He is greater than our imaginations, more powerful than those things which we seek to rule over us. And like a faithful husband, He desires us, His Church wholly; not merely a piece here and there, but the lot of us.
The Israelites, to whom God first gave this command, had come from the land of Egypt, a land ripe with statues, drawings and carvings of their supposed gods. Their gods were depicted as mighty in stature, capable warriors, beautiful vixens and so on. Into such a world, were the ancient Israelites born. In the mind of the ancient Israelite, to worship a god of any sort required a visible icon, image or idol to worship; it was the norm of the day. However, God came not only to liberate Israel’s body from Egypt, but also her mind. Though Egypt was in the rear-view mirror of Israel, its memorabilia remained with the people’s hearts. It is for this very reason that God revealed to them that to worship Him looked entirely different than anything they had known. God, in effect, goes counter to everything Israel had experienced. Israel was no longer to bow down, serve or worship anything other than the true God of Israel, who has now fully revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
As Christians today, God also calls us to worship Him apart from statues, idols and paintings. We are not to worship or pray through such things because to do so would be to reject the very words God has given us. Why? For “no one has ever seen God” (John 1:18 ESV) yet Jesus says, “whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9 ESV). Why is that? Wouldn’t a visual aide be so useful for us? God says no. He says that His Word is enough, and we should take Him at that Word. He tells us this, not because He wants to make it more difficult to follow Him but because He loves us. Whenever Israel found herself “wiser” than God, she found herself committing spiritual adultery against God. Israel’s idolatry would be her undoing. Nevertheless, we see a God who observes His faithless wife, yet pursues her as a loving husband.
We, like the Israelites, are often too easily pleased by things other than the Lord and often delight in them more than Him. What are you thinking about when your mind wanders? What brings you joy in the secrecy of your heart? What is it that you are trusting more than God or equally to God? God alone must be the source of our joy and hope and life and peace. When we establish our deepest hope and trust in creation, we are idolaters; not in bowing to statues, but building idols within our own hearts. Nothing else can satisfy; everything else takes, but only our God gives. He is asking you today to trust Him, to smash those idols that we delight in by our hearts. Let us heed His call today, He wants all of you today; lay down your idols.