You become like what you worship

As I have mentioned before, I’m reading through the chronological Bible this year. I’ve just made it through the Bible books of Kings and Chronicles. It’s about the kings that ruled Israel and Judah after Solomon’s death.

King David gave these instructions to his son Solomon:

“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.” 
1 Chronicles 28:9 (New Living Translation)

But even King Solomon did not follow in his father’s steps when it came to obeying God and His commands. What was King Solomon’s downfall? He loved many foreign women. 1 Kings 11:2-3 says,

“The LORD had clearly instructed the people of Israel, ‘You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.’ Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the LORD.” 

There is a common thread when reading about the kings that ruled over Israel and Judah after Solomon. Most of them “did what was evil in the LORD’s sight.” Again and again we read about their unfaithfulness toward God.

What led to their unfaithfulness? Why were they not worshiping the One true God?

Because they surrounded themselves with people that worshiped other gods, that worshiped idols.

Here is what N. T. Wright has to say on the topic of worship in his book “Simply Christian”:

First golden rule: You become like what you worship. 

“When you gaze in awe, admiration, and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship. Those who worship money become, eventually, human calculating machines… Those who worship power become more and more ruthless.”

It seems to make sense that you and I become like what we worship, doesn’t it?

Second golden rule: Because you were made in God’s image, worship makes you more truly human. 

“When you gaze in love and gratitude at the God in whose image you were made, you do indeed grow. You discover more of what it means to be fully alive. Conversely, when you give that same total worship to anything or anyone else, you shrink as a human being. It doesn’t, of course, feel like that at the time… when you worship an idol – you may feel a brief ‘high.’ But, like a hallucinatory drug, that worship achieves its effect at a cost: when the effect is over, you are less of a human being than you were to begin with. That is the price of idolatry.”

The “price of idolatry.” This phrase made me think. King Solomon couldn’t stay away from foreign women. He paid a very high price for it.

What can’t I stay away from?

Who can’t I stay away from?

What do I worship?

Who do I worship?

If we don’t pay attention to what or who we worship, we will pay a price for our idolatry. Do we want to shrink as a human being? Or do we want to grow?

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