The story of Israel's sin is one of assimilation, apathy and poor judgment. They were given chance after chance to keep their focus on the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, the one who had parted the Red Sea and delivered them into the promised land. Yet, they followed after the idols of their neighbors. They traded what was invaluable for the cheap thrill of immediate gratification and social acceptance.
For decades the Israelites walked the fine line between disobedience and conviction and God decided that he had enough. "They rejected his rules, the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and the laws he had commanded them to obey. They paid allegiance to worthless idols, and so became worthless to the Lord." (2 Kings 17:15)
It is that last part that hit me as I came across this text . . . They paid allegiance to worthless things and thus became worthless themselves. I couldn't help but wonder what worthless things have I paid allegiance to? What worthless things have I given my time, my affection, and my devotion?
God frequently referred to the worship of idols as worthless, as in having no value—lacking worth. (Jeremiah 8:19, 10:8, 14:22). He even pokes fun at the absurdity of a created being, creating for himself a god.
He cuts down cedars
and acquires a cypress or an oak.
He gets trees from the forest;
he plants a cedar and the rain makes it grow.
A man uses it to make a fire;
he takes some of it and warms himself.
Yes, he kindles a fire and bakes bread.
Then he makes a god and worships it;
he makes an idol and bows down to it.
Half of it he burns in the fire –
over that half he cooks meat;
he roasts a meal and fills himself.
Yes, he warms himself and says,
"Ah! I am warm as I look at the fire."
With the rest of it he makes a god, his idol;
he bows down to it and worships it.
He prays to it, saying,
"Rescue me, for you are my god!"
How silly is it for a man to marvel at the creation of his own hand that he goes so far to even seek out salvation and comfort from the fruit of his labor. The man used the same material to cook his food and as kindle for his fire, only to take spare parts and fashion for himself a god. Ultimately the wood that now stood at an altar was as worthless as the wood he used to prepare a meal.
While our generation typically doesn't bow before a golden calf or a wooden statue, there is one creation that we often allow to take the rightful place of our God. Perhaps the foolishness of worshiping wood is all too familiar because we have begun to worship our screens; a tool created by our own hands for our own pleasure is now bucking up against our devotion to the Almighty God.
Maybe you're thinking, "OK Christen that is a bit of a stretch . . . Am I obsessed with Twitter?—yeah. Is my phone the first thing I check in the morning and the last thing I check at night?—yeah. But worship? Isn't that a bit harsh?"
As we slowly numb ourselves with likes, tweets and "chasing fire pics for the gram," are we not giving away devotion that rightfully belongs to God? Are we not turning to the creation to do what the Creator was intended to do? Have we not busied ourselves with the allure of the screen to forsake God's Kingdom work? Do we care more about our newsfeed then we do about spreading the Good News? Is it possible that we too have begun to worship worthless things and in doing so have become worthless ourselves?
For more on interactions between our Christian Faith and Social Media see: