Last week at church, my pastor talked about his mom's sapphire ring. It was apparent that his mom didn't idolize the ring; she appreciated it and cherished it and saw in it a hint of God's glory. According to my pastor, loving sapphire is not limited to people. God loves sapphire so much that there are pavements of sapphire in heaven.
After hearing this, as it so often happens, my mind began to wander. And this mind-wandering, rambling thought pattern is what I wanted to write on today.
I had never imagined "pavements of sapphire" before. I instinctively imagined myself in heaven, walking cautiously on the sapphire pavement, not wanting scratch it.
... and then I corrected myself, "that is ridiculous." Jewels will be so abundant! I’m sure I’d be more careful running around on tar if it was prized and in short supply on earth… but tar is common and I know if I ruin it, they will replace it easily. In heaven, I imagine the pavement of sapphire will be like that.
Then, I imagined seeing a woman there who had an idolized sapphire ring on her finger. I could see her first living on earth, so proud of her wealth... then dying... and flying up to heaven and getting plunked down on the sapphire pavements (which I'm sure isn't really how it works). I could see her putting her hand on the floor to hoist herself up from the sparkling floor, and reeling in shock at how small (and dull) her sapphire ring was in comparison to the road. Even in picturing it, the sadness of idolatry hit me. She had based her life on something so small in comparison.
I love jewels, by the way, and I don’t mean to discredit cherishing such special sentimental items. I believe they show a bit of heaven’s beauty to us now, and this is incredibly valuable. BUT I just sat in church thinking of LIVES that are sacrificed for the sake of gaining money, cars, jewels, etc. I imagine getting to heaven and laughing in awe at the beauty and opulence there, and then looking down to earth only to see people back-stabbing and bragging over the comparatively tiniest bit of wealth.
Then, I realized… this is idolatry in its nature.
Everything we idolize on earth is a sliver of what is in heaven/God.
AND I realized that actually, the idols we turn to (like sapphire rings) show our bigger inborn desires, which are fulfilled in heaven!
Think of it:
You will be perfectly known
You will have wealth
You will have confidence in your purpose
You will have perfect health
You will have intimacy and love for others
You will be unconditionally loved
You will know you are special
You will have peace
You will have joy
You will have no worries
Our hearts were designed to long for these^ things. We were not created to be satisfied in this world, but instead to desire heaven. Because of this, these desires were planted in our hearts. These are things of God!
Many of us are trying to chase the beautiful things of God— outside of God. We follow what we sense planted in our hearts and we chase it in our own power, not in God.
We seek fame and popularity, and we idolize acknowledgment for accomplishments -----(because we want to be perfectly known)
We pursue money at any cost, we take pride in riches -----(because we want wealth)
We look for power and status in our jobs ----- (because we want confidence in our purpose/importance)
We pursue perfection with our bodies’ appearances and abilities---- (because we want perfect health)
We turn to sex----- (because we want intimacy)
We idolize our marriages----- (because we want unconditional love)
We cling to people who affirm us ------(because we want to know we are special)
We distract ourselves from problems -------(because we want peace)
We idolize experiences and happiness --------(because we want joy)
We turn to numbing ourselves with drugs, alcohol, or entertainment ----(because we want to be free from worry)
And therein lies the root of idolatry: not in pursuing things that are nonsensical, but in pursuing desires that resemble what has been sowed into us since our creation! We were designed to want the things of heaven, like peace and joy and intimacy, but we have been going about it all wrong. The idols never satisfy the innate desires we have. And just like the woman idolizing her jewels, we will get to heaven's sapphire floors and realize how we idolized such an unworthy treasure.
When we chase the gifts instead of the giver, we idolize the hints of glory instead of glory Himself.
We worship what resembles Him and not Him. When we get to heaven, the only thing found worthy of worship will be Jesus. Everything else will be seen in its truest light— unworthy.
Even things that are holy cannot be our idols. If we look to our marriages or our destinies to give us worth, I believe it may be even worse for us… because we will go through our whole lives believing we aren’t idolizing anything… and then we will come face-to-face with the fact that maybe we weren’t doing it for Jesus after all.
I felt so convicted by this train of thought and I knew that I hadn’t been free of idols. Is it bad to want things that resemble heaven on earth, like health and wealth and love? No! But I pray that God shows me the difference between enjoying the things of heaven and finding my worth in them. We pursue the giver, not the gift.
There are many people who give their hearts to Jesus, and then spend their lives trying to satisfy their inborn desires through fame, popularity, acknowledgment of accomplishments, money, power, status, jobs, perfection in bodies, sex, marriages, other people, distractions, experiences, drugs, alcohol, or entertainment.
The answer to our inborn desires has been given to us in Jesus. He is the only thing that offers all of the things our hearts long for.
There’s a C.S. Lewis quote that says, "Aim at heaven (he is talking about God) and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither." And its true.
The second we try to pass God and go straight to the gifts
…is when we will act in our own control. This is also when we make idols and end up with the sliver of the gifts instead of the gifts themselves. We end up with sex instead of true, Godly intimacy. We end up dedicating our lives to our jobs instead of knowing that we are important in our true callings.
WE END UP UNSATISFIED. Because the truest forms of these gifts are only found in Him. Everything else just resembles it.
We sacrifice the glory for the hints of glory, and it ends up creating idols. Grabbing control and reaching for the gifts outside of God will be our biggest temptation. Disobeying God in order to get the desires that HE has placed in our hearts will be the biggest trial we face. Ever since Adam and Eve pursued the answers of God, outside of God, we have been bombarded by this temptation to chase His gifts without Him. It never works.
We can thank God that we recognize the slivers of heaven and we can acknowledge that they are ONLY SLIVERS… and that nothing will distract us from the true prize, which is the Glory of heaven! God is the true prize, and one day, we will all be so convinced of this that all we will want to do is worship Him, as we nonchalantly scrape our shoes against the pavements of sapphire. We will eventually be so enamored by Jesus that we will dance upon the things we make idols of today! Nothing else will matter. And that can start today. Heaven, in a way, can start today!