“Like scarecrows in a cucumber patch, their idols cannot speak. They must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them, for they can do no harm, and neither can they do any good.” -Jeremiah 10:5
The sights and sounds are familiar to me. Joyful singing with shouts of “amen” and “hallelujah” fills the air. A pastor prays and opens the Bible, explains the text and helps his people understand and apply what is read. There is baptism and taking the Lord’s Supper together. Yet, as I sit here in the front row of Nepali Revival Church, I am overwhelmed with the thought that the multitude around me rejoicing in Christ’s gospel together were not long ago devout Buddhists and Hindus. For a few of them, just hours ago.
We sinners have become master idol makers in our running from God. We either craft and carry ornate statutes like Hindus or craft a god with our opinions and emotions. Either way, such idols must be informed of identity and cannot walk or speak. Idols have no quality to be feared; however, idols are dangerous.
The Apostle Paul commands the church in Colossae to put to death the earthly desires in you “which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). What makes idolatry dangerous isn’t simply the moral failure, but that idolatry is the reason the wrath of God is coming (vs 6). Our covenant making God has a holy, pure jealousy demanding our singular devotion and joy (Exodus 20). And Christ’s gospel welcomes those who are far off, no matter their nation or language or tribe, into the Lord’s salvation that the nations would be glad (Psalm 67:4).
Whether I sit in this room filled with Nepali Christians, or I am back at Allison Avenue, I am surrounded by former idol crafters, carriers, and worshipers. As Paul says “you too once walked” (Colossians 3:7). When our Nepali brothers and sisters call for Hindus and Buddhists to smash their idols and turn to the living God, calling for repentance, they are speaking of the Way in which they have found: Jesus is alive. He does not need to be crafted and carried. He is to be feared. He can do harm or good. Turn to Him and have everlasting life enjoying our gracious God forever.
When we tell the world and each other to smash the idols of “sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness,” we speak as those who once worshiped and carried those idols. Allow me to encourage you, my beloved church family, with the boldness and joy of our Nepali church family. Much like the church in Thessalonica, be encouraged of seeing how they have turned from idols to the living and true God (I Thessalonians 1:9-10). Be bold and joyful as you speak Christ’s gospel to idol worshipers around you. Jesus saves. His gospel is the power of God to save.
Heavenly Father, how we rejoice in Your salvation we enjoy through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! How You have called us to turn from our idols and worship You, the living and true God. Grant us boldness and joy as we proclaim this good news in Christ to the idol worshipers around us that they may turn from their idols and escape Your holy wrath and be invited in to enjoy You forever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.