Gods and Idols; May 5, 2023

Psalm 115:2-3 Why do the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in heaven;
he does whatever pleases him.

This exchange might seem a little odd to those not used to physical idols, but the truth in it is important to us just the same. Right after this passage the Psalm goes into detail about the deficiencies of idols, that are inanimate regardless of what they are made of. Verse 8 is very pointed: “Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.” As I mentioned a few days ago, the current work on AI is, on some levels, aimed at creating “gods” who will eventually supplant humans, but verse 8 still applies. It is an entirely different matter to know and worship the Creator of the universe, who indeed is in a plane far above our own and does whatever pleases Him. When our concept of God is limited to our own intellect and senses we cut ourselves off from the infinite eternity that God inhabits, and the our loss is greater than we can imagine.

Almost 50 years ago we were living in Sasebo, and a burgler broke into the church we were attending. They only stole some sound equipment, but they had previously broken into a Buddhist temple and stolen a statue. When the police came and investigated, one detective said, “I see they stole your god,” because there was no crucifix on the wall, it being a Protestant church. The pastor and I laughed at that, but it showed the cultural mindset of Japan. I left Sasebo to go to seminary in the US, but returned to Japan in 1981 and continue to minister here now. The cultural mindset still hasn’t changed! Only now, Japan is on the forefront of robotics technology, creating bodies for the AI that is being developed in the US and elsewhere. My challenge is to demonstrate the reality of the Creator and His interaction with people through my own life, being faithful to say and do what He desires. As this passage says, He does whatever pleases Him, but I desire to do only what pleases Him as well. After all, I know that in the not too distant future I will be with Him in heaven. I desire to take as many people with me as possible. There is no such thing as heaven being “too full,” because it is truly infinite as well as eternal. I know that desire is pleasing to God, because the Bible states clearly that He “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) And that means being rid of idolatry in all its forms.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Ministry in Japan often feels like beating my head against a wall, but nothing is impossible for You. Thank You for those who do discard idols, physical and otherwise, and open their hearts to You. May their number increase greatly, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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