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And making idols is something that makes a deity small enough to be controlled by the one doing the idolizing, even though it seems like an act of adoration.Our gospel lesson is two short verses from Matthew, and Jesus’ words demonstrate that idols are more than images of other gods.Idols are whenever we’ve let something else be master of our lives besides God.
And so, when God gives the law for God’s people to Moses, the very first of all of them is the one we read in Exodus in our text for today: “I am the Lord your God … You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.You shall not bow down to them or worship them.” Instead, God says, at the altar, make offerings to me from your life, your livelihood. Time and again in the scriptures, God and God’s servants demonstrate that God, creator of the universe, is not a god who can be contained, boxed in, controlled.Without a little context, that concept is kind of hard for us to get our heads around.What pops to our mind is American Idol, celebrities, sports figures, people we put on a pedestal, people we want to be like, people we admire.But I don’t think we’d say we want to worship those people, right?
I think when we think about idolatry, we maybe think about the golden calf that Aaron and the Israelites made and worshiped, and we can’t picture ourselves ever doing anything like that, and so we’re pretty sure idolatry isn’t something we have to worry much about.