Worthless Idols


Author: Laura Christensen Colberg

Worthless Idols. Here’s one of the less picturesque shots in my photo library documenting the road trip I made with my son last summer. Any guesses before I tell you what these are? Hint: This is on the lower level of the infamous I-80 truck stop close to Walcott, Iowa. This came to mind as I was driving on I-5 this week, and felt just a little too squeezed in by the semi in the lane to my left. Close enough to notice the hub-cap bling on his wheels that were about eye level with me. Yes, this is a fraction of the racks and rows of those sharp little pointy things you can screw onto your 18-wheeler’s rims to look … dangerous? Sharp? Not sure. But apparently it’s a thing. And smack dab in the middle of the lower-48 (or close) is where you can pick up your own particular branding.

I also took a picture of a black-and-white cow-printed baseball (aka farmer’s) cap I threatened to buy for my dad. But didn’t.

Stuff. Even if you’re not a trucker, there is probably some other kind of accessory that announces your “brand” to the world. Your cell phone cover. That keychain fob. Your color.

From the belly of the fish, Jonah had a few choice words for God, veering between desolation and hope, repentance and bargaining.

And somewhere in the middle, he drops this truth bomb: “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.” [2:8]

What was he thinking? Why did this come to mind? What in Jonah’s life was “worthless”? We don’t know much about him before he was called to go to Nineveh. Is this an observation? Or a back-door statement of repentance?

There are 14 other places in the Bible where “worthless idols” are mentioned including these choice words for Israel: “They [the people of Israel] followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.” [2 Kings 17:15, Jeremiah 2:5]

Worthless. I had a high school teacher once tell me: “You become who you pretend to be.” Ever notice how followers start to resemble their leaders? It’s important to consider who (or what) you follow. Is that who (or what) you aspire to be? This can be a good thing. Or not so good.

Worthy. Eleven times Scripture speaks of the Lord, who is worthy of praise … the Lamb, who is worthy. How best to avoid ending up worthless? Follow the one who is worthy. 

One or the other. Have you ever stopped to think that making room for one thing in your life requires that you say No, that you turn away from something else? Not many would come right out and “reject” God’s love … and yet that’s what Jonah says is happening when we choose worthless idols … things that consume our time, our attention, our focus … we are choosing those things instead! What could possible measure up or take priority over our Creator’s love for us? We are amazing beings … because we find a way to do just that.

Consider for a moment if there is a habit, a ritual, a can’t-live-without-it part of your world that is taking up space where you could be experiencing God’s love instead. I recently picked up a book-book to read, feeling the excess of screen time in my day-to-day routine. I took time to rest this weekend, rather than cramming every minute with plans and checking off my to-do list. Being aware of the worthlessness of some choices I’m making is a start. Deciding which to actually turn away from … that’s a daily task.

I may not have hubcap bling, but there’s definitely a lot of other worthless stuff in my surroundings. 

What does this mean for you?

Posted on September 22, 2018