Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Idolatry and Reverence
Tuesday night, at Canvas Group (my church's small group, which I was facilitating this time) something came up in my soul when a particular issue came up. We were talking about the "image of God." The question that came up at first was, "By 'image of God', do you mean like God Himself, or like Man and our relation with God, Man's being 'made in the image of God'"? My heart truly and most deeply seeks the first one, whereas the second one is secondary and marginal (for God is the center of the world). But my answer was, "the second one" (meaning, lets talk about the second one, because the first one will get awkard to try and talk about), while the first lurked in the back of my mind and in a void in my heart.
Later, the issue came up again, more directly referred to this time as a "philisophical issue" (not that it is necessarily and only belonging to that which we know of as "philosophy"). Christ was "the visible image of the invisible God." Does that mean that God looks like a man, or that God took form into having the likeness of Man? Here again, when the question arose Tuesday night, I stated that I was hoping to avoid that question, as I was afraid it was too "philosophical, and boring, and would zap the energy in the room." And yet, particularly after the Enlightenment, this is precisely what I most deeply believe to be so very important!
We're talking about idolatry here, the "graven image"! Something in that moment Tuestday night really strongly arose in me. And it was particularly awkward, because I had to then shut down that urge; because Dave (my roommate) then proceeded to joyfully hug me - "Hey, great, you finally realized it! Everyone's not you. You're growing!" In Wednesday night's solitude (that's tonight), I would see how Dave was oh so ironically correct. I do not say "ironically" because he doesn't understand idolatry (I think, mostly, he does), but simply because I now see that God is edifying me in a way that Dave did not mean when he said that I was growing. Dave was talking about a whole different issue. My concern with vanity, marketing, of catering our souls to the mold and urgings of Satan's world. I am not interested in catering my concerns, desires, words and actions to the mold of the world. I am, in fact, intending to break that oh-so-hardened mold (and yet, only as an example, the women who fit into that mold change face so easily, with their cosmetics and with how quickly they change from whom they desire to recieve love).
Wednesday night (that's tonight), I realized that God was paving the way for my reverence of Him, for my seeing Him as the "One who is 'worth'" (thank you, God and Alonzo). And God's been leading me there all along. I knew my Gostic urges of previous years served some purpose, but since writing my paper on Gnosticism, I did not know what that purpose was (for me in my soul, all of the years previous; what was God doing?) Gnosticism was Satan's twising my desire to revere God, to "love Him with all my heart, all my soul, and all my strength." And yet Gnosticism (or basic Gnostic urges to reach higher) was God's sneaky way of leading me closer to Him, of ridding me of so much of the filthy idolatry present in the modern world. If you are Christain, you may be asking how on earth what I just said hold's true. Understand that I was already Christian, and had the Holy Spirit in me. God uses many things as instruments for His children. The key is not necessarily the instruement, but whether or not you are His child in the first place. Of course, Gnosticism is itself dirty, and a very impure channel for reverence, but that's the very reason something funky arose in my Tuesday night. Old habits die hard. My urge for knowledge has so often superseded my urge for reverence (and yet, let us not be mistaken: a certain kind and way of knowledge is necessary, from the Holy Spirit, for proper reverence - we cannot rever both God and our own personal idolatrous image of Him).
Now the channel is purified. Writing the Gnosticism paper was part of the purification ritual. Now I understand the connection between why idolatry is so importantly emphasized in the Bible (why it seemed so important to me, and why it seemed to be put on my heart as an important issue to be addressed by God) and love for God. We are commanded to have no idols, but to love God with our all. That's The Sacred Romance; "divine intimacy."
If a man is blind to idolatry, he is unwilling to fully love God, which can then only mean that he does not fully "know" God's love for him.
Also, I now "see," or understand how and why idolatry was confusing to me before. It's a different kind of sin, now, in our modern world, present in a very different (and yet the same really!) form from in ancient Cannaan. It is not just something we do. In ancient Cannaan it was; the Canaanites would sleep with "the temple prostitutes" and mutilate themselves, in expression of actual (or "literal") worship of a lesser god, similar to what Paul would later refer to as a "mere angel." Now however, idolatry is not present in our actions, at least not so obvously, but is oh-so-definitely present in the very way that we gaze upon the world, the very basic assumptions that we hold as to "what is an image." When I say image here, I am referring to both ourselves as an "image", and the "image" that we "see" - that is the world itself.
Positivism, and even previously, Enlightenment knowledge, and modern scientific logic in general, has caused us to truly believe that God, the almighty God Himself, in His very "essence" at the core of His very own "Being" (if you can call it that), has the form of a man! Not to mention that we then betray the meaning of the word "form", as it implies formation - God is the Uncreated! I hear the objections..."But the scriptures say, 'In the image of God, Man was made'." How did we loose so completely a truth that the ancient Hebrews took for granted that we have to die to a way of seeing and be reborn into another more pure and original?
God as some dude is, daah hello, a "graven image", the very essence and standard of all possible graven images. Much more death defying than merely a golden calf, which did not pretend to be an image of God himself! Does no one any longer study anything remotely ancient Hebrew, as to obviously find that this topic was of central importance to them? I am here referring to "our" very "conception" of who is God (these words I put in quotes...as if our conception of Him affects who He truly is within Himself!)!
And how did I not see that this anceint Hebrew concern for "keeping straight" (to use our contemporary parlance) who God is was simply an expression, clear and even intentionally so. of reverence and love for God? Oh how ironic it really did turn out to be that I took this concern to be too "philisophical", since it was only because I myself have often thought about it, or been exposed to it, through a philosophy called Gnosticism, rather than through God's Word. Of course, I've already answered my own question. Satan can no longer keep me from the greatest of loves. I am free.
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