Christmas approaches. You have less than 2 weeks to get your Christmas shopping done. Yet as the video showed us, much of what we purchase, give or receive will be obsolete, broken or worn out in a matter of months or years. It’s not wrong to buy or receive gifts at Christmas. Yet it is possible to think key to our joy is what we give or receive as gifts at Christmas. It’s almost like our primary love or worship goes towards the ceremony of giving and receiving gifts rather than the Christ whose coming we celebrate.
We talked about idols and Christmas a couple of weeks ago. We thought about how at first, it’s pretty easy for us to dismiss the problem of idolatry in our lives. We’re not like primitive people who worship before images of stone and wood. And even if we see the potential of an idol in something like TV watching or time on our phone, I have yet to see anyone bow down on their knees before the TV.
But then we looked at a definition of modern idolatry. “An idol is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek, to give you only what God can give.” We talked about the different types of idols people can follow like religious figures or pop stars. We also talked about deep idols that may drive our behavior – like the desire for power, approval, comfort or control.
We talked about the subtle ways idols can work their way up to become our first love. Though we hear about Jesus as Light of the World at Christmas, we might actually be going into Christmas trusting our idols in an attempt to find whatever we seek. Even in our gift giving we may be tempted to feed our power idol by showing that we have the power to deliver some spectacular gift. Or we might be worshipping our approval idol hoping that those to whom we give gifts will approve of the gifts and us. Or we may look to feed our comfort idols with a gift we hope to receive. Or we may be honoring our control idol as we seek to exercise control over someone else by the type of gift we give.
But, God’s Word reveals to us again and again that It is foolish to give our trust to an idol instead of the only true God. We saw this two weeks ago in Psalm 115. Today we see another example in the prophet Isaiah as we prepare for the final 2 weeks before Christmas. He wrote or spoke to exiled or soon to be exiled Israelites. They would be conquered by the Babylonians. When one nation conquered another, like Babylon would conquer Israel, the victorious people concluded their gods were superior to your gods. Where was Israel’s God through Israel’s defeat and exile? What were the exiles in Babylon supposed to think about their God when it looked like Babylon’s gods were way stronger? Where was God? Was God powerful? Was God real? Maybe they should consider worshipping these other gods.