In my effort to think of an illustration for Sunday School, I could not resist. Alas, Sunday came and only four students showed up that morning (I am not bitter, obviously). One of the four was a boy who didn't even read Twilight (we appreciate you, Kevin!).
I wanted to make a point about idolatry, namely to discuss the differences between surface idols and deep idols. Surface idols are things like grades (you must understand that I teach Chinese high school students), money, family, careers, dreams, addictions. Deep idols are the cravings of our souls for approval, control, admiration, power, comfort, security, pleasure.
In one of the books, Bella was going back and forth between liking Edward the vampire and Jacob the werewolf. She was in despair (Oh, the agony!). And then, she discovered that she she was in love with both (this is where I resist the urge to pull my hair out).
Here was my point: The vampire and the werewolf were merely surface idols, Bella's deep idol was her desire for approval, admiration, and security. Or, in other words, she was in love with both Edward and Jacob because what she really wanted was something else.
Deep idols are the roots that hold the weeds; deep idols are the currents beneath the waves. Surface idols may look different from one person to another, or change depending on the stages of life, but so long as the root remains -- we are bound.
Jesus repeatedly warned his listeners against the love for money. Money serves so well as the surface idol to a variety of deep idols. For those who desire praise and admiration, they flaunt their money. For those who desire security, they save and invest. For those who desire power and control, money paves their path of influence. So for those of us who are frugal, we need to beware that we might be frugal precisely because we love money; or we love the control and security that being frugal gives us.
Therefore, fasting from coffee or facebook or chocolate or texting is not sufficient. Fasting might be necessary -- to wean us from a dependence on these things, but eliminating these things will not change our idolatrous hearts.
Purging must take place from within. Parting from our idols is a painful thing. This is where we scream, "but that's just the way I am" or "how I am wired" or "the way I was raised."
So, it is not enough to identify what I daydream about and what freaks me out. I then need to ask why. Why are these things so important to me?
The truth is, no amount of praise or control or power will ever satisfy. There is no lasting comfort or pleasure or security on this earth. This tells us perhaps we were made for another world.
Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. -- C.S. Lewis