A fraudulent imitation of what is real. When we hear about fake imitations about the money in our wallet, or priceless pieces of art, or valuable original documents, or even famous people—we become indignant and view anything that is counterfeit as unethical, immoral, illegal. When we have been given a hundred dollar bill and we find out that it’s fake, we are really ticked off! Counterfeit! Saying it leaves a bit of a sleazy feel on the tongue. Fake, phony, pseudo, forged, hypocritical. Nasty synonyms.
We want the real thing in our lives, right? the REAL deal?
So why doesn’t this desire for authenticity carry over in our relationship with God?
We say we believe in Him, but is He really God in our lives?
When I started on my journey to take a closer look at what I believed, I became drawn to know more about what God says; I was confronted with this idea of idolatry. Did I have idols?
And then I saw this video about idolatry with Dr. Tim Keller, author and pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He was being interviewed about his book Counterfeit Gods.
In my last post, Who is Your MVP?, I quoted lots of God’s Word that clearly reveals how God detests us having idols. He forbids it.
I asked: Why does He care so much about this? Why does it matter?
HE is God. He created us. We are His children. He loves us.
He placed a sense of eternity in our hearts. He gave us the capacity for wisdom, for purpose, for authenticity. He created us to be like Him. He designed us to want His love, His providential care, His healing, His companionship. He gave us a hunger to want a relationship with the One Who knows us perfectly. We were created to have a capacity to know God. We were created to reflect Who He Is. When I was searching for the wisdom from others about this subject, I found this uplifting observation from a very wise teacher, Dr. Ray Stedman, in his sermon, Athens vs. Paul:
What the Bible says is that man is the image of God, and that he has a capacity to respond to God. He is made for God. Everywhere you go, even among the most degraded and primitive of men, you will find this pattern of the image of God. For one thing, you will never find a man, woman, boy, or girl who does not have a passion for life, who does not want to live, who is not in revolt against death and boredom and frustration and all the other negative qualities of life. They all want to seize hold of life. And you will never find a man, woman, boy or girl who does not have a passion for dominion, who does not want to succeed, who does not want to reach out and try something new and accomplish new objectives, to conquer new territory. That is because man is made in the image of God. Further, you will never find a human being who does not have some power to create, to invent, some ability to produce or fashion or make or shape. This is inherent in the heart of man everywhere; no animal ever does that. Also men seek to communicate, animals do not. These are all part of the image of God.
And we, the good and blessed images of God, were given the gift of choice. And that’s where the struggle begins. From the beginning of the Creator’s relationship with his people, we have been trying to be god. And that’s where idolatry starts. That’s why it has lured us from the moment we were born. Who doesn’t want to be in charge of their life? Who doesn’t want to be their own ‘person of destiny’? Idolatry draws us and lures us because we choose our own idol. And that feels powerful. We feel in control.
We’re the ones who make the money. We’re the ones who are succeeding. We’re the one who has created a beautiful home for an amazing family that we raised. We’re the ones who work beyond normal hours to show the world we are indispensable. We’re the ones who strive for a perfectly sculpted body, bought the expensive beauty treatments to show how beautiful we are to the rest of the world. We’re the ones who have attained great knowledge from the best schools and rubbed elbows with the intellectual elites to show that we too are very wise.
Choosing something I feel in control of rather than being controlled by God. That’s the bottom line, now isn’t it? That is the fundamental nature of sin—the refusal to bow to God, the demand to be the master or mistress of my own life.
But, the more I seek assurance, confidence, esteem, recognition from my idol, the more it does not produce. And that can be very scarey.
Thank you, Dr. Keller. What a perfect word for the word idol – COUNTERFEIT.
(a sermon from Dr. Tim Keller on Counterfeit Gods)