Let’s imagine, for a moment, that a mutual friend of ours just invited you and I over to their home to celebrate the birth of a new born baby boy. You and I walk into their home and are quickly escorted down the hallway to the nursery to see the child, but upon entering the room, we become enamored with the beautiful work the family did with the remodel. We rave about the paint job and the trim work. We “absolutely love” the craftsmanship of the matching crib and changing table. The stuffed elephants and giraffes are “so freaking awesome,” and we can’t wait to hold “that beautiful little baby blanket.” The whole time is spent ranting and raving over all the details in the room, but not the baby itself. How do you assume the parents would respond?
In my mind, annoyed would be the putting it mildly. They wouldn’t be able to understand why we are so enamored with the decorations, but don’t want anything to do with the one the decorations are for.
Absurd, right? Maybe not.
As I have been reading in the book of Ezekiel, there was an interesting little section that caught my eye. It says, “They put on sackcloth, and horror covers them. Shame is on all faces… They cast their silver into the streets, and their gold is like an unclean thing. Their silver and gold are not able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord… For it was the stumbling block of their iniquity. His beautiful ornaments they used for pride, and they made their abominable images and their detestable things from it” (Ezek. 7:18-20). When God came, the people were left in shame because they spent so much time admiring the decorations.
In Ezekiel, and through much of the Bible, the major issue God takes up with humanity is this kind of idolatry. Romans 1:25 says it like this: “they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
God created this whole universe as nothing more than ornaments meant to magnify His glory. In the course of time, His glory was even manifest inside the created universe in human form with the birth of a Son – Jesus Christ – who was “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). But humanity, refused to pay attention to God, or to His Son, because they were too busy glorifying the decor.
To say the least, humanity is stupid. We would rather worship rocks and trees and wood (most of the time in the shapes of cars, houses, or jewelry), rather than worship the One who made it all.
But hear Ezekiel’s warning: “Their silver and gold (i.e. their stuff) are not able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord.”
You can spend your whole life pursuing the things of this world, and in the end it gets you nothing. “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” Or you can look to the Son of God, and as the old song says, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” As Pastor Tullian Tchividjian is fond of saying, “Jesus + Nothing = Everything.”
God gave you this life to admire His Son. Don’t waste time worshipping His stuff instead.