“Even while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were serving their idols.” 2 Kings 17:41
We will always do what’s the most beneficial to us, for by nature we are selfish and self-centered. Or am I merely speaking from my own perspective, since that is what I am? I am basically quite selfish and self-centered.
Take romantic love for an example: We seem to say the magic words so readily and easily, even on the first date with a desirable person. What does the three letter word really mean? I love you because I need you, want you, or find you physically appealing? We will be greatly surprised, appalled even, after we do thorough soul searching concerning our true intention when we so boldly express our love and affection to our loved ones.
All loves are need-loves, according to C.S. Lewis in his book “The Four Loves.” For the most part, we love for our own sake, not for other people’s sake. We are so fearful of losing those who we love dearly because it would hurt us so much. One of the main reasons why we try so hard to hold onto our loved ones is we simply are trying to avoid being hurt by their departure, which is why it’s so vital that we convert our self-centered love into God-centered agape love.
Perhaps we need to take the time to examine our religion and worship as well, to see whether we are truly disinterested in our worship, and to find out whether our worship of the Lord is me-centered or God-centered.
Indeed we turn to the Lord for the forgiveness of our sins and therefore avoid eternal damnation. Isn’t this motivated by selfish reason? It does sound that way, doesn’t it? Forgiveness of sin and having a harmonious relationship with the Lord eternally are such wonderful gifts and one has to be a stubborn fool to reject them. But it’s safe to say that accepting God’s grace is in essence a selfish act, isn’t it?
How can anything we do be God-centered, or for the sake of meeting God’s needs, since the Lord is completely self-sufficient and there is absolutely no need in him of any kind from anyone. Therefore all we have ever done is motivated by our needs, which are self-centered in nature.
“Even while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were serving their idols.” It was all too natural for the Israelites to do such a thing, since they felt the need to cover all the bases, so that they wouldn’t miss the blessing coming from other divine sources. No wonder the Athenians felt the need to erect an altar dedicated to “an unknown god.”
Surely it’s not an affront to God that our love and worship of him is motivated by our needs or even our selfishness, because we are deficient and incomplete by nature, therefore we need both spiritual and physical support and sustaining from both human and divine. No shame in that. The ones who claim to be completely disinterested in their worship or their deeds of charity are indeed quite arrogant and prideful. These people will find it extremely difficult to yield to the Lord, or to any deity.
Ultimately it’s a severe lack of trust in the Lord when we turn to idols, for by doing so we deem our Lord insufficient in meeting all our needs, as if we were turning to our neighbors, enemies even, for aid while our father has more than enough to meet our every need. That was what the prodigal son finally discovered after going through a period of rebellion against his father.