When most people think of idols or false gods, they often think of drugs, alcohol, or materialism. However, idols and false gods are ideas or tangible items we elevate above God. The harsh reality, though, is that we often elevate every day desires above our Creator. For instance, I've put my desire to be famous above God before. I've also put the work I do with HeartSupport above God (and HeartSupport is a ministry!). A job, relationship, social media, hobbies, or even food can become the thing we elevate above God. They're not inherently evil or bad, we just turn to them instead to "fill our cup."
The reason any of us chase after idols is that we believe they can make us feel full or complete. For a time, they do. Then the bitter end comes and once more we go searching. It's like taking medication that wears off, not the cure that heals us.
These false gods can never fulfill us like Christ can. In the heart of every man and woman there's a deep desire to be unconditionally loved. So when we reach for things like fame, it's because we want to be recognized, and through recognition we believe we've earned love. When a loved one showers us in gifts and affection, the material items give us a temporary sense of satisfaction and we feel love from the gift giver. But it's always temporary and doesn't last long. The same is true of every romantic relationship. The butterflies will fade and love becomes a choice besides a feeling. We're always left grasping at the wind when what we desperately want is an eternal source of love.
Through Christ's sacrifice on the cross, we see the picture of this unconditional love. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for you and me (Romans 5:8). If you can wrap your head around the fact that no sane person would die for an enemy, you get a glimpse into God's crazy love.
And that's the key to this passage of scripture in Hosea. Because God's love is the only source of fulfillment in life, that's what we should chase after because everything else is like a dying man drinking sand from a well. Throughout the book of Hosea, God reminds Israel they've turned their back on him by choosing to follow other gods. Like Israel, you and I do the same. So God reminds us that when we chase after these other entities we will never be full. We'll always thirst for more.
Because you and I have a hole in our hearts that God has placed so we would seek him (Ecclesiastes 3:11), we won't ever be content with our misplaced worship. Our devotion to idols and false gods leads us to an empty road. Yet, in Christ, we can know fulfillment.
Because Christ died for our wrongdoings, he bridges the gap between God and His creation (us). By bridging that gap, we experience joy, love, and fulfillment. When we turn our back on him and chase other gods though, he becomes jealous. That may sound harsh or strange, but imagine it like this: Say I raised a son and loved him and showered him with gifts. Then one day when he's older some deadbeat comes along and woos him away, only to get him involved in a life of drugs. Then my son starts calling the other man his "father." Naturally, I'd be jealous and want my son back! With God, it's the same. He wants his sons and daughters back so they can experience true life and not grow hungry and never full.
It's important to remember that people can only love to the extent of their understanding of love. If you know Christ and his love, you will feel loved and accepted. You will then offer that love to others. But when we chase after this world, we won't feel God's love and continue to be hungry and thirst for more. Along the way, we can hurt others while we search, because we're left unfulfilled.
Each day Christ reminds us we have a choice. Fulfillment in him? Or sand from a dried-up well?
My prayer is we'd become full in him.
- Write a few idols or false gods that come to mind. These can be good things as I've explained, but take your time, energy, and devotion away from God.
- What do see happening when you turn to these idols? Is it to relieve anxiety or stress? How do you believe they help you cope or fill you up?
- What do those false gods give you that you feel you can’t receive from your relationship with God? How can you turn your will and way over to God to find fulfillment?
- This is an excerpt from Jake’s devotional, Mountains. Click here to buy a copy.