By Lisa Huddleston
We study through books of the Bible at The Village Chapel, and some Sundays those books speak to me in a separate sermon that is just in my head, and I write it in my journal while the pastor speaks: his sermon for us all and my sermon just for me. And then, on some certain Sundays, I feel as though maybe both sermons were for more than just me, and I take some time to share them here. Today is a certain Sunday kind of day.
The passage we studied today was Acts 19:20-41; “The Riot in Ephesus” is the heading my Bible gives it. You know, this is the passage where Paul threatens the big money-making business of those who crafted and sold statues of Artemis and her temple. Demetrius, one of these artisans, quotes Paul saying, “that gods made by hand are not gods!” Gasp! Really? I mean, did Demetrius even hear himself? Of course, a god made by our own hands can’t be a real god. Anyone could see that—especially the ones who crafted these “gods.”
And while Pastor Jim talked I wrote; is Self our modern-day idol? We don’t make our actual physical bodies, but don’t we definitely try to make our “selves”? Certainly I have made and remade myself many, many times. I have been a student, an editor, a teacher, a writer, a homeschooling mom, and a tutor to name just a few of my former selves. And right now, a major struggle I face is in trying to answer the question of who I am as an aging, graying, wrinkling, less-than-relevant, and obviously less sharp, 54-year-old mortal woman. I mean there is no longer any way to ignore it. I am getting old, and then I am going to die. Who does that make me today? And does it even matter anymore?
The culture around me screams, “NO!” No to aging, no to losing relevance, and definitely no to death. Like Demetrius and his fellow artisans, we somehow fool even ourselves into believing that what we craft is real. Surely this anti-aging cream will preserve our youth. If not, well, there is always this hair dye or this flawless makeup or finally even the surgeon’s scalpel. We know that it will do the trick—it must. And we end up putting our faith in immovable masks of unfeeling flesh that cannot save us or even absolutely disguise the truth we can’t help seeing in our mirrors that we are mortal. Like those rioters in the city of Ephesus, we get caught up in the irrationality of the mob and rage against reason. Surely, we will never die! Not us! No, not us.
But the truth is that we will. And our idols, power, money, beauty, intelligence, relevance and so on, can never ever save us. Our identity is found in Christ alone, our Redeemer, not in our DIY desires to save ourselves.
This truth is a great and terrifying threat. We who have achieved more than any preceding generation. We like they are truly powerless, and only God—the real and true God—has the power to do whatever He desires. We fear that truth so we keep making our gods with our own hands until the sweetness of the Gospel finally (hopefully, eventually) breaks though our hand-made physical walls to set our feet on the spacious ground of the spiritual kingdom of God.
By letting go of lies, we are set free. Free from our ugliness in the face of the god of Beauty. Free from our stupidity as we bow in the temple of Intellect, our poverty in the exhausting pursuit of Riches, and our irrelevance in our unquenchable need for Importance.
Christ breaks our chains. Hallowed be His name.