Monday, December 10, 2012

Front Row Seat To The Naked Idol Parade

…so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptian captives and the Cushite exiles, both the young and the old, naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered, the nakedness of Egypt. Then they shall be dismayed and ashamed because of Cush their hope and of Egypt their boast. Isaiah 20:4-5

One of the most loving things that the Lord does is parade our idols naked down the street. Theologically we know this; but when the rubber meets the road I’m not so sure. Having a front row seat to the naked parade of your idols is painful. Often it is painful because there are floats in this parade that you are shocked to see exposed. Good things that become ultimate things and therefore must be exposed for their emptiness.

A pastor does not expect to see his ministerial dreams come crushing down around him. Surely, ministry won’t be a float in this parade. A woman that dedicates herself to her family only to experience pain and bitter rejection, did not anticipate her family lining up for the naked idol parade. A wise businessman that does everything correctly still sees his fortune dwindle by the decisions of others; his idol is on display.

You and I have things in our life right now that we are questioning the Lord about. Things are crashing that we feel should not be crashing down around us. What is happening is that the Lord is giving us a front row seat to our naked idol parade. Yet, we are quite acute at renaming it and removing the Lord as the master of ceremonies. Certainly, this suffering is only the result of natural forces. Maybe, it is the consequence of a poor economic philosophy. Perhaps even, it is the enemy attempting to rob the Lord of his glory.

Oddly enough those adventures in renaming are usually partially correct. Yet, the Lord remains as the master of ceremonies and he has called us to a front row seat in our naked idol parade. If we are sensible we will be dismayed and ashamed ourselves as we see the emptiness of those that we trusted exposed for their emptiness. We’ll ask ourselves, “if this is what has happened to those in whom we hoped and to whom we fled for help to be delivered…how shall we escape?”

This is supremely loving

One of the most loving things that the Lord can do for us is give us a luxury suite to view this shameful parade. It is loving because our idols really are empty. They really are in themselves nothings that cannot satisfy or rescue. The things that we create by our marred hands cannot rescue us from the plight created from those same hands. Rescue must come from elsewhere.

We are blind to this truth until our idols are exposed and shamed. If our idols really are empty it is supremely loving for the Lord to expose them; even if it requires immense pain to do that. Only Yahweh is real, can satisfy, and can rescue us. Until we endure this naked idol parade we will continue to think that we can find rescue in the Cush’s and Egypt’s of our day.

Watching our idols topple and being dashed by their flying debris is a painful experience. It can seem as if the Lord is set out to destroy us. It can feel as if the God of the universe is bent on our demise. The loving father is masked as a viscous killer. Yet, as Tim Keller rightly notes, “Sometimes God seems to be killing us when he’s actually saving us.” (Counterfeit Gods, 20)

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