Readers of a certain age will recognize the following quotation from The Sound of Silence, a #1 hit song from 1966 by the duo Simon and Garfunkel.
I've come to talk to you again.
– Paul Simon
I was reminded of these lyrics recently when I heard a sermon about how frequently ancient Israel fell into idol worship.
It would be nice if we could look back on the Israelites with a superior smile and say, "Oh, we don't that." As most mature Christians know, however, idols are not limited to the "graven images" forbidden by the Ten Commandments. An idol is anything that we pay more attention to than we do to God. We usually think of tempting vices like taking drugs or overeating, or sometimes even good things like family and hobbies. Whatever they may be, we love them more than God.
But surely, anything that takes our full concentration away from God is an idol. If that is so, what about things that we hate: past hurts that we dwell on every chance that we get, prayers that have not been answered the way that we want, or personal trials that inspire paralyzing fear, capturing and poisoning our minds? These things blind our thoughts to God's love and will. Have we made a friend of our darkness?
I complain that I don't have the true and lasting peace that Christ promised. But how can I receive that peace when I spend more time worrying about failure, deadlines, and what's for supper than I do reading God's Word? When my mind is taken over by resentment of the smallest obstacles and impatience with myself and others, instead of praise to the Lord, anxiety and anger become my gods. My old friend, darkness, descends on me, and I talk to it at length.
John 1:4-5 – The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (NLT)
John 8:12 – Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life." (NLT)
Jesus is the light. If we have Jesus, we have light. Even when we ignore it, the light of Jesus, our true friend, is there for us always. We need never lose our way. When our idols of darkness trouble us, let us talk to Him, the light. He is always with us. He can never be extinguished.
Prayer: God of light, who is light, shine on us and erase the shadows of fear, anger, and doubt. May Your presence be our comfort, Your joy our strength, and Your unfailing love our support, as we seek to love and serve You first and foremost. In the name of Your ever-present Son Jesus, we pray. Amen.