"All who make idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit; their witnesses neither see nor know . . . .Who would fashion a god or cast an image that can do no good? Look, all its devotees shall be put to shame; the artisans too are merely human." - Isaiah 44:9-11
All who make idols are nothing. That's pretty harsh, Isaiah.
In our world of endless assurances that we are all special and worthy and amazing, these texts make us uncomfortable. Shouldn't Isaiah have said something like "Idolmakers, you're really not doing the right thing here, but you are still special"?
Perhaps. But then again, maybe Isaiah is trying to remind us of a truth we are quick to ignore: that our worth comes not from what we are or the work we do, but instead from whose we are. We live in a world of idolatry. We draw our worth from what we do, what we own, and how much we have in our bank accounts. But at the end of the day, none of that really matters.
When I was a hospice chaplain I saw a lot of people die with regrets. As it turned out, all the overtime, all the expensive cars in the garage, all the graduate degrees, and all the vacation homes in the world couldn't save them. We are all heading to the same destination and, as the saying goes, you can't take it with you. Our idols don't go with us to life after this.
But what does? The only thing I can say for certain is God will be there with us.
On the last days of our life, not matter what else we have done, we are returning to the one who gives us our true worth. On that day the distractions and false idols of the world with fade away, and we will cling to the one who created us "just a little lower than the angels".
And in the end we might find out that we truly are something incredible after all.
God, I am nothing without you. But with you, I am worth more than all the idols in the world. Amen.
Emily C. Heath is Senior Pastor of The Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire.