For idolatry is the attempt either to localize God, confining him within limits which we impose, whereas he is the Creator of the universe; or to domesticate God, making him dependent on us, taming and taping him, whereas he is the Sustainer of human life; or to alienate God, blaming him for his distance and his silence, whereas he is the Ruler of nations, and not far from any of us; or to dethrone God, demoting him to some image of our own contrivance or craft, whereas he is our Father from whom we derive our being. In brief, all idolatry tries to minimize the gulf between the Creator and his creatures, in order to bring him under our control. More than that, it actually reverses the respective positions of God and us, so that, instead of our humbly acknowledging that God has created and rules us, we presume to imagine that we can create and rule God. There is no logic in idolatry; it is a perverse, topsy-turvy expression of our human rebellion against God.
Let us learn by this how ready the world is to fall to superstition. Yea, this wickedness is in a manner born with us, to be desirous to adorn creatures with that which we take from God. Wherefore, no marvel if new errors have come abroad in all ages, seeing every one of us is, even from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols. But lest men excuse themselves therewithal, this history doth witness that this is the fountain of superstitions, because men are unthankful to God, and do give his glory to some other.
Let us also learn from this how ready the world is to become superstitious. We seem to be born with the desire to adorn created things with what belongs only to God. It is not surprising, then, that new errors have spread in every age, since every one of us is expert in inventing idols. But this story show that the source of superstitions is our ingratitude to God and giving his glory to someone else.
What we revere, we resemble, either for ruin or restoration. To commit ourselves to some part of the creation more than to the Creator is idolatry. And when we worship something in creation, we become like it, as spiritually lifeless and insensitive to God as a piece of wood, rock or stone. We become spiritually blind, deaf and dumb even though we have physical eyes and ears. If we commit ourselves to something that does not have God’s Spirit, to that degree we will be lacking the Spirit.
The BBC ran a program the other day (unfortunately not available in the U.S.) called Secrets of the Superbrands. In this program, Apple fans were shown images of Apple products while an MRI was being done. And what was the interesting result? “They found brain activity that mirrors how a religious person’s brain reacts when presented with a picture of their chosen deity.” (source)
Should this suprise us? Is this unique to Apple? I don’t think so. I think this is actually how things have always been.
Do you recall Isaiah’s striking picture of idolatry in Isaiah 44?
Isaiah 44:14–17 (ESV) 14He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. 16Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”
Do you see the striking picture? “The rest of it he makes in to a god, his idol, and falls down to worship it.” How foolish we are! Maybe we don’t carve many physical idols these days, but let us not be deceived into think that we aren’t still creating idols. It is not just Apple. As one commentator says:
Implying that Apple fandom equals zealotry may be attention-grabbing (and does indeed make me want to watch the program . . .), but the neurological similarity isn’t surprising or particularly novel. You could almost certainly make the same observations about Red Sox fans, Twilight groupies, Van Halen lovers, Ducati collectors … the list goes on, and whatever object of desire makes your heart pitter-patter will resonate in the neural patterns of your gray matter. (source)