Several years ago, widespread corruption among the world’s biggest banks emerged out of conspiracy theory into breaking world news, revealing the long hidden secret that what are known as Libor rates had been illegally manipulated for decades. Libor rates significantly affect everything from mortgages to student loans. As banks falsely reported artificially low borrowing rates, these banks were implicated together in the theft of many billions of dollars from millions upon millions of people. The magnitude of corruption was epically historic, not only in an international sense, but spiritually speaking was representative of the volume and degree of mass-coordinated evil that exists in broad daylight, as well as a truly perfect example of mankind’s utter and desperate need of God’s grace to have hope of salvation from the idolatry of money.
As Jesus said in the gospels…it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. He said this for good reason. Money buys power, and power feels good. Incredibly good. It is nearly impossible for any man to resist, and only by the grace of God can any man be loosened from its seductive grip.
As many remain in money’s deceptively warm embrace, they continue their dark deeds in the swarm of industry. They are busy. They are important. They have significant responsibilities. Their vocational achievements give them purpose and identity. Their hearts are satiated with the fruits of their labor, and they are happy. The inebriation of accomplishment and financial accumulation flows in their veins, and it feels incredible. It feels right. They will not stop. They will never stop.
But lest we think ourselves better, there are many expressions of idolatry and thus many ways in which hearts darkened by sin find themselves starved of grace.
Some idolize the mind, having clothed themselves in the intellectual robes of religion and philosophy, persuading themselves and others that the Christian God is dead; that God cannot be defined or known in any narrow sense. “God is what you want him to be,” they say.
And still many idolize self-gain as civilly abused victims of under-privilege. They are common men, swallowed by self-pity and perpetually ailed by oppression. They cry against the elite who abuse them. Their life is strained and full of desperation. They chronically complain about every injustice and wander aimlessly on their journey without seeking the God of refuge. Though their woes are real, their hearts turn inwardly to themselves or the salvation of men instead of to the God in whom is their salvation.
There are others who idolize power as disguised as shepherds but are in truth vicious wolves. Their mouths salivate as they prey upon the weak and the innocent. Within the confines of their religious and philanthropic institutions they lie and deceive, seeking power and wealth, abusing their cause for their own personal gain. They distort the truth and mislead those with weaker minds, using them as puppets to accomplish their self-serving plans.
And the list goes on.
Each of these scenarios follow a common theme…men idolatrously lifting up in their worldly efforts to find identity and purpose in themselves; to attain a satisfied and valuable existence. These are the pursuits of men starved of grace and ignorant of the incomprehensible value they already have as humans made in the image of God, created for a life lived in harmony pleasing the only true and living God. As David wrote thousands of years ago:
Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them. Psalm 115:4-8
Without the grace that comes through Christ, none of us can turn away from our idols, not a single one. And we will always be defined by them, rather than our Creator. For those of us who have tasted the grace and goodness of God, let us always remember how ever desperate we are for God’s continued loving kindnesses and always give Him thanks. Without His undeserved love we could never have ears to hear or eyes to see.