I love fireworks. I am not sure whether its the chest rocking booms, hanging out with a couple thousand people in a field, or the sizzle of luminescent chemicals burning up in the sky: It is probably a combination of several factors. Nevertheless, as June rolls to an end each year, I start getting excited for fireworks. A couple years ago, I remember overhearing a conversation that struck me as kind of odd. It was right in the middle of a fantastic fireworks display. Two people were arguing about a glow stick. Yes. A glow stick. At a firework show. Bombs are blowing up over their heads, issuing out blasts of bright, colorful light that can be seen for miles, but they are preoccupied with a long, thin tube that barely shines any light at all. Utterly ridiculous, right?
I thought so at least. But then I began to draw some comparisons between the underestimation the fireworks’ power, glory, and true awesomeness with a similar ignorance of my own. I do that all the time! I choose to be enthralled by things that are either inherently temporal and empty, not worthy of my attention, and far less glorious than what I was created for and Who I was created by.
The Dark Exchange
Now this is not something that I alone struggle with. It is, in fact, the way that all of humanity experiences every kind of sin. The base root of sin is idolatry. As Romans 1:24-25 says, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”.
Reject the Counterfeit
This refusal to honor, worship, and love God as we are designed to do is the basic foundation of evil. We choose to be consumed by something that is a cheap, cheap substitute for the Creator. These things appear to satisfy us in a moment. They bring a quick morphine injection of happiness, but there is simply no competition with God. We are wired for God and anything less will leave us constantly looking for the next figurative or literal narcotic to drown out the pain of living in a fallen world. Hope in God! It is what you were made for!
The faint, weary light that comes from a glowstick versus the utter brilliance and glory of a fireworks display is nothing compared to the horrific exchange that takes place in our own idolatry. My prayer is that I grow in realizing how utterly dissatisfying and pathetic my idols are and that everyday I would run to God and away from counterfeits.
Here is a sermon by John Piper that for years has been instrumental in crafting my understanding of the nature of idolatry. So instrumental that I stole his sermon title and made is my first subheading for this post!