One might have thought last week that the world was coming to an end. People lined the streets, even camped out for days to get their hands on one of life’s absolute necessities. What was it that they desperately needed? What device did the fate of humanity hinge upon? A phone. Apple rolled out its newest creations, and with it came a tidal wave sensation around the world. Move over Black Friday: iFriday is becoming it’s own regular phenomenon on a global scale.
I think to the majority of the population, it’s really quite humorous and unmistakably bizarre that people would sacrifice so much of themselves for a phone. On Friday morning, as people fought frantically to be among the first with their hands on the shiny and colorful new iPhones, headlines were being made with record numbers showing up at Apple stores in New York, Sydney, London and Tokyo. In Pasadena, California, one shrewd businessman instigated a small riot by picking up homeless people and offering them money to wait in line on his behalf.
Now I must admit, I myself am an Apple guy. I write this from my MacBook Pro, while my iPad and iPhone sit next to me. I use these tools daily and I’m quite happy with them, but really folks, it’s a phone? A phone that, ironically, will be replaced in a year by the next big thing… the iPhone 6.
How greedy and pathetic have we become? What drives us with the need to be the first on the block with the latest and greatest? All of the sudden, my iPhone isn’t good enough? Will people look at me and my phone and think… “What a loser, he’s so 2012.”
I live in Burbank, which is the town where Hollywood magic really happens. And while the iPhone is definitely creating a stir here, the real hubbub around tinsel town this weekend is the entertainment industry once again celebrating itself with the Emmy awards. As they pat themselves on the back, telling each other how wonderful they are, millions watch on. (What other industry works so hard at making sure everyone knows how important they think they are?) No doubt, the next few days, talk shows and entertainment networks will be discussing who wore what, who should or should not have won, and honestly I just don’t understand it.
While these phenomenons reveal much about our culture, they also reveal the heart of what we seek after. These idols are all around us, and as Christians, we need to constantly ask ourselves, “What is it that I find truly important?” To what do I ascribe worth?
In opening the 10 Commandments, God declares: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-3). These words are direct and clear. There is no room to twist them around in order to suit ones own interpretation. There is no mistaking that God expects to be in His rightful place, as preeminent over all. And think about the significance of when these words are delivered directly to Israel. Israel has just seen God’s hand part the Red Sea and caused them to walk across it on dry land. He has killed an entire Egyptian army before their eyes, after delivering them from generations of bondage and slavery. He has worked miracles through Moses in the palace courts of Pharaoh, and brought calamity upon the land of Egypt through 10 plagues. With all the wonders He performed in their midst, this commandment should be a no-brainer. Who or what else could they possibly put before God?
And then, as if to drive home the point, He presents the second commandment and states, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:4-5). Again, this should not even be a question for Israel. It would be preposterous. Yet it was within days of their deliverance that Israel grew impatient with the Lord and built a golden calf (Exodus 32). Scripture provides examples time and time again that Israel had a propensity to sin…in particular, idol worship.
But we are certainly no different. As believers, we can see the miracles of God in our own lives. He has taken my sinful soul and redeemed it; He has worked the miracle of regeneration in my heart, and He has even given me eternal life…yet I build elaborate idols of selfishness and pride and greed. What has become the most important thing to me? I hate to admit it, but I have! A.W. Tozer opens his book, The Knowledge of the Holy by stating, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” But what if our focus isn’t even upon God because what we value is something worth much less?
You may not have stood in line for an iPhone, or even known that the Emmy’s were on television. These material possessions and vain pursuits are not the only idols that plague the heart, but anything that takes precedence before God. What are you willing to bend over backwards to achieve or gain? What consumes your days and your thoughts? To what do you ascribe worth and what motivates you?
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2: 15-17).
Did you just glance over those verses? READ THEM AGAIN CAREFULLY!! You do not want to be guilty of their condemnation, or miss their great instruction and encouragement. Examine your heart in light of these words.
It’s not wrong to have the latest smartphone technology. In fact, if God has blessed you with it, enjoy it. I believe it’s a tool that can be used for His glory. But guard your heart. Finally, If you’re willing to spend a couple hundred dollars on a phone that you’ll want to replace in a year, let me encourage you to make a small investment. I would strongly encourage you to spend the $1.29 today to download this beautiful prayer for your device. It’ll last you a lot longer and will help remind you daily to seek after God’s ways and not our own. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/before-you-i-kneel-workers/id562606123?i=562606132
May you be encouraged this day to glorify His great Name.
Before You I kneel, my Master and Maker
To offer the work of my hands.
For this is the day You’ve given You’re servant;
I will rejoice and be glad
For the strength I have to live and breathe;
For each skill Your grace has given me;
For the needs and opportunities
That will glorify You great Name. Before You I kneel and ask for Your goodness
To cover the work of my hands.
For patience and peace to shape all my labor,
Your grace for thorns in my path.
Flow within me like a living stream,
Wear away the stones of pride and greed
‘till Your ways are dwelling deep in me
And a harvest of life is grown. Before You we kneel, Our Master and Maker;
Establish the work of our hands.
And order our steps to seek first Your kingdom
In every small and great task.
May we live the gospel of Your grace,
Serve Your purpose in our fleeting days,
Then our lives will bring eternal praise
And all glory to Your great Name.