Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory, for the sake of Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness! Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?" Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them. O Israel, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. The LORD has remembered us; He will bless us; He will bless the house of Israel; He will bless the house of Aaron; He will bless those who fear the LORD, both the small and the great. May the LORD give you increase, you and your children! May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth! The heavens are the LORD's heavens, but the earth He has given to the children of man. The dead do not praise the LORD, nor do any who go down into silence. But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the LORD!
A few years ago ago, I was asked by a fellow local pastor for my perspective on the structure of Scripture. Thinking back to my seminary days, I quickly responded that covenants provided the primary structure of Scripture. In return, I asked him the same question, but his answer was that kingdoms provided the structure. I explained my reasons and he explained his. Throughout the day I continued to think about his question and my response. Imagine my surprise when later that evening I providentially happened upon an article written by Tim Keller that begins with the following words:
“When I first began reading through the Bible I looked for some unifying themes. I concluded that there are many, and that if we make just one theme the theme (such as ‘covenant’ or ‘kingdom’) we run the danger of reductionism. However, one of the main ways to read the Bible is as the ages-long struggle between true faith and idolatry.”
I immediately became concerned because of my lack of conversations with other pastors (or anybody else, for that matter) about my struggles with faith and idolatry. I knew that human beings were made to worship. I also knew that Paul understood humanity’s original sin as an act of idolatry: “They exchanged the glory of the immortal God...and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator” (Rom 1:21–25). I knew it, but I didn’t talk about it much.
Psalm 115 talks about it specifically, making the following points:
- Man will become like the idols he makes and worships (vv. 7–8).
- Man had been called out of the worship of idols to worship and trust God alone through the Person and work of the Son (vv. 9–11).
- God’s steadfast love and faithfulness (v. 1) and His great power (v. 3) enable us to respond to that call and to worship Him.
As He enables us to worship Him and not the idols in our lives, we become more and more conformed to the image of Christ. However, it is not only the behavior of our bodies that will change, but what we put into our bodies that should change as well. Eugene Peterson says in Eat This Book: “Christians feed on Scripture. Holy Scripture nurtures the holy community as food nurtures the human body. Christians do not simply learn or study or use Scripture; we assimilate it, take it into our lives in such a way that it gets metabolized into acts of love, cups of cold water, missions into all the world, healing and evangelism and justice in Jesus’ name, hands raised in adoration of the Father.”
The study of Scripture is important, but the metabolization and assimilation of it is critical to our growth. Why? Because when Scripture becomes a part of us, we become more aware of the subtle differences between our idols and the things of our God. In sum, we become wiser in distinguishing truth from lies.