“Josiah broke down the sacred poles and the carved and the cast images; he made dust of them and scattered it over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars and demolished all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel.” – 2 Chronicles 34:1-7
Josiah was one of the kings of Judah and an ancestor of Jesus, according to the genealogy in the gospel of Matthew. He was known for his great loyalty to Jehovah, which today’s scripture illustrates with a vivid description of him routing out false gods, destroying pagan images, and burning priests’ bones on their own altars. He didn’t stop until he had “demolished all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel.”
I know all this is supposed to make Josiah one of the good guys in the Bible. But his approach to things reminds me of how easily and often we over-respond to perceived threats.
As a world-class worrier myself, I can see the appeal of Josiah’s method. How great would it be if you could just wipe out every trace of whatever is out there that threatens you? The trouble is that no sooner is one worry eliminated, one false god demolished, than another one springs up to take its place.
After a while, it’s pretty clear that some of us need something, anything, to be afraid of.
Do our serial worries actually function as false gods? Do we find our only comfort in eliminating or destroying them? Only to find ourselves fixated on yet another one? Do we really want to spend our lives worshiping what we fear—with a break on Sunday to distract us?
Dear God, let every day have at least a little Sunday in it. Amen.
Christina Villa is the former Director of Publishing, Identity, and Communications for the United Church of Christ.