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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Larry Pray

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
—1 John 5:21

When I was a child, avoiding idolatry seemed a simple thing to do.  If there was a golden image, it was not to be worshiped. One did not worship statues. It was as simple as that. 

In time I realized that life is rarely as simple as it first appears. The icons were not portrayals of God, they were simply symbolic ways to understand the work of God. I did not worship Michaelangelo's painting of God reaching out to touch Adam's outstretched hand, but I surely did appreciate it, realizing that that same divine touch animated my own life.

I thought I had come to terms with idolatry.

But then life changed again, as it always does. 

Living in a big city, people wanted to know “where." Was it a good neighborhood? Or was it a bad? Was it a rich neighborhood? Or was it a poor? 

Their curiosity was not about life.  Instead, attention was fixed on the attributes of life. And, of course, I had my own idolatries that captured my attention. Money had its power. So did success. So did prestige. So did power. So did competition. 

Hope, love, patience, generosity, forgiveness and sacrifice didn't have much of a chance. I realized that keeping away from idols was more difficult than I thought. It meant trusting God, worshiping God, and living with God each day.  Putting aside idolatry was no easy task. But it was a necessary one that I needed to keep in mind day after day, year after year. 

I am thankful for the counsel John gives at the end of his pastoral letter. It is a good reminder that we are to worship the God of life and not the principalities and powers that so often surround us.

Giver of life, sometimes we get caught in the image and miss the essence. We turn you into something we can control, something we can use to prove ourselves. Forgive us, and bring us home that we may once again worship you with all our mind, all our heart, and all our soul. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Copyright © 2008 Larry Pray.