Several members of our staff (Dr. Smith, Amy Baker, and I) were having a conversation about how those struggling with anorexia and bulimia move from the motives of things like (1) I want to be accepted by the “in” crowd; (2) I want to look in a certain way; (3) I want to feel good about myself, etc to a more intense focus on food itself. Even though many of these early motivations remain the anorexic does not seem to notice that being 5’4’ and 82 pounds makes her look unhealthy, even repulsive, because at this point the facts of her life are not nearly as significant as her idolatry toward food. In other words, the facts are irrelevant when you have an idol.
This observation should not be surprising; after all, this is in line with what God teaches in Psalm 115. The passage explains that idols have the appearance of seeing, hearing, speaking, touching, etc but in reality they are nothing but the work of someone’s hands. The irony comes in v. 8 “Those make them will become like them, all those who trust in them.” What does it mean to become “like them”? Surely the text cannot be saying that those who trust in and worship an idol turn into stone, wood, or clay. It also cannot mean that they become the idol itself for others to vainly worship. Psalm 115 points to the reality that those who worship idols (whether fashioned with the skillful hands of a craftsman or with the cleaver thinking of a person made in the image of God) become like their idol … powerless before the Lord.
Those who worship their idols become slaves to the figments of their own imagination [an idol is, after all, nothing see 1 Cor 8:4) and they spiral into a deep pit where darkness reigns and reality is so far removed that it cannot be properly seen. Thus, food, or the lack thereof, becomes an idol and the reality that the person is not part of the “in” crowd, the reality that she has potentially done life altering (or even threatening) actions to her body, and most importantly, the reality that God loves her and has designed her in his image is lost. Instead, she continues to spiral blindly into the pit of despair.
Idols, whether food or something else, have similar characteristics. They make you blind, deaf, and dumb to reality and drives you into a pit of despair. Thankfully Jesus gives sight to the blind, strength to the lame, hearing to the deaf, and speech to the dumb – Jesus sets captives free! Return for the next blog where the focus becomes seeing the realities of our lives through the lens of the finished and continuing work of Jesus.