Idols, Hope, and Meaning

Idols are counterfeit objects of hope. We rely on them to give us the comfort, satisfaction, and security we crave and need. Repeatedly, however, we find that they don't deliver. The excitement, glamor, and allure of our idols soon fade. Even our friends and loved ones fail us, just as we fail them. We easily find ourselves on a deadly cycle of disillusionment and despair as we seek the next thing that, we hope, will bring lasting meaning to our lives. Nothing in this world, however, can bring lasting meaning to our lives. The things of this world pass away, and, more urgently, we do too. Sooner or later, we die. We then lose everything this world has to offer, if only because we are ourselves are lost.

Like ourselves, our idols lack the power to sustain us past death, and they cannot redeem our failures and other troubles. In particular, they cannot set us free from our burdens of guilt, shame, and fear of having lived without lasting meaning. If our lives are actually to have lasting meaning, we need genuine hope in the face of our moral failures and impending death. Idols are at best band-aids; they keep falling off and we know it. We need to be healed and changed by being loved by One who can sustain us. Idols cannot love us as we need to be loved. They cannot rescue us from the bad news of our selfish rebellion against God.

The Good News is that we are loved by a God who can sustain us past death. This God forgives our moral failures, as a free, unearned gift, and invites us into a friendship that gives lasting meaning to our lives. He even offers us His Holy Spirit to empower us to receive and to share His friendship. God sent Jesus into the world to show us His love and to offer us genuine hope. Jesus proves, in his unmatched life and death, the reality of God and His undying love toward us. Genuine hope and meaning in life consist in the reconciliation of humans to God. This reconciliation is provided by Jesus as Jesus extends God's loving friendship to us, the enemies of God. Courtesy of a divine gift, Jesus restores and heals my relationship to my Maker. He offers a lasting friendship grounded in God's unselfish love, love demonstrated by the life and death of Jesus.

No genuine hope is available elsewhere in the universe, since no other power can sustain us past death and release us from the powers of idols. It is tragically dangerous for us to look to anything or anyone other than God for genuine hope and lasting meaning. When we turn to idols, we turn away from the Giver and Sustainer of life. The result is death, since neither we nor our idols can sustain human lives. If we turn to the living God, however, we are welcomed into a friendship that sustains our lives and gives us lasting meaning. Jesus proves this with his life and death for us. The only remaining question is whether we are willing to receive this gracious offer of lasting friendship. That is, will we choose a lasting life of unselfish love? This is a life-or-death decision. We cannot hide its urgency for long.

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