The Potter's Dust part 1: Godly Idols
Why everyone needs an idol
Idols are great for everyone. They retain monetary value. In 1996 an ancient ivory statue of Apollo sold for over $10 million. Moreover, they connect worshippers to something tangible and familiar in addition to providing a detailed picture of what the pious devotee can become.
Though adoration of carved images is less common in the Western world, everyone reaches out to one of the many gods available to us. Whether it is Apollo, Buddha, Shiva, money, power, or affirmation, these gods steer the rudder of our lives. With firm grip, we embrace graven images to transcend our current coils. In their golden eyes, we see a chance to grow toward something greater.
While idols promise the moon and the stars, their essence is a deified contradiction. When a worshipper creates a god, they mold it with a piece of their identity. In the shaping, they pour out their hopes and longings; they personify the idol as a means of achieving identity goals. In reality, these vibrant images fail to propel a person to their yearned for fulfillment. Instead, they subtly craft the worshipper into the graven image. Psalm 115:4-8 describes the transformative power of these imagined deities:
Their idols are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear,
noses, but cannot smell.
They have hands, but cannot feel,
feet, but cannot walk,
nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them.
The gift of identity
Identity and its trajectory in our lives are essential to being. Therefore, they must be understood with precise clarity. Misunderstandings or miscalculated trajectories lead to the gross aberration of idolatry.
The trajectory of our worship will ultimately point to what we will become. If we are to reach the fulness of our identity, we must seek it in the face of the Father. Henry Nouwen writes, “Spiritual identity means we are not what we do or what people say about us. And we are not what we have. We are the beloved daughters and sons of God.”
The defining core of your person, the very form of your heart, is a gift imparted to you. When the sun’s fire was newly kindled and the moon’s mirroring surface was freshly polished, the Creator submerged his hands in the unbroken soil. With love and purpose, he used the dust of the earth to shape men and women in his image; we are idols of the Almighty.
Instead of commanding us to fashion his face in canvasses of clay, God breathed his identity into every person. Idols were never meant to be worshipped; they were created to be worshippers. We, however, have forgotten the Potter’s purpose and created our own idols. Everyday we clutch lesser images over the Original, and these distortions lead us to death with sweet whispers of delight.
Though his idols race to destruction, the Creator has already laid out a new canvass and is ready restore the broken image. His hand is laid to the brush, and a more perfect model sits for the portrait. As we gaze upon the face of this flawless image bearer, we ourselves will see what we can become. Our hope for glory, therefore, is not a carved stone or a lifeless dream. Instead, it is the promised Immanuel, who, in the dust of the Potter’s hand, will renew us all.