“Break down the altars and smash their sacred pillars…”Deuteronomy 12:3
It may sound odd, but demolition can be beautiful.
One of the first things God instructed the children of Israel to do as they were starting over in their sweet spot was to demolish the idols and altars they found in the land. Before they could unpack their boxes and settle in they were supposed to get out their wrecking balls and destroy anything that would compete for their loyalty to God.
You could hear the crash and thud of righteous deconstruction across the land, with ash and smoke rising, making way for the beautiful re-settlement that was about to take place. God was doing something glorious and new, but the project had to begin with a demolition phase.
It usually does.
But what would happen if they didn’t take this step? If they just let the idols and false gods remain standing and just build next to them, what would be the harm? Well, of course, eventually they would be tempted to worship them. Predictably, whenever they would hit a flat spot in their relationship with the one true God because they were disappointed or just bored, those idols across the way would start looking very attractive to them and before they knew it, they would be flat on their faces in idolatry.
How do we know? Because it happened. The children of Israel left a few residual idols standing and those idols eventually won their hearts. Those lifeless, powerless pieces of wood and stone charmed them into religious infidelity and the consequence was tragic.
Little children, keep yourselves from idols.1 John 5:21
This leaves me asking, What idols need to come down in my life? What needs the wrecking ball treatment? What steals my attention and lures me away from devotion to Jesus? What am I grasping for and gripping to give me a sense that I am going to be okay? Is it my money? My stuff? My career? My public image? My dreams for my kid’s future?
These are just a few of the usual supsects in my life. None of them are bad in and of themselves but if I indulge them, they will move into God’s space in my heart.
And that never works out well.
I’ve found that the best way to level these idols to the ground is to regularly name them and lay them before God while confessing to Him that these substitutes can neither speak to me, satisfy me, or save me like He can. They never have. They never will. They will never compare to or compete with the one who “loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
John Calvin was spot-on when he said, “The human heart is a perpetual idol factory.” We tear our idols down, but they persistently re-appear.
So let the demolition begin, but be careful that you’re deconstructing your idols – not your faith.
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.
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