As I was trying to use duct tape to pull the skin of my elbow back together, I remember thinking to myself, “Maybe using a five-gallon bucket as a stool and a screwdriver as a pry bar was not the best decision I’ve ever made.” I ended up with 14 staples in my arm simply because I misused a bucket and a screwdriver. I want to say that I learned my lesson, but my wife might disagree.
It is all too common for us to misuse or to put unfair expectations on the things in this world. For instance, using an expensive bat will not guarantee you home runs. A certain amount of money will not solve all your problems. Sex will not make someone love you. Politicians cannot save a society. It would be ridiculous to think that any of these things could do something that they were never intended to do in the first place. And yet, too often, we act as if they can.
The Israelites, during the time of the prophet Jeremiah, found themselves in a world where people had put their faith in their own creations. They had created gods out of wood and metal, and then placed their hope for peace, prosperity, and life in them. They had, essentially, created placebos and expected complete healing from them. In the end, their misuse of creation would cost them everything.
God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah and said of these things:
Everyone is senseless and without knowledge; every goldsmith is shamed by his idols. The images he makes are a fraud; they have no breath in them. They are worthless, the objects of mockery; when their judgment comes, they will perish (Jer. 51:17-18 NIV).
In other words, these things that the people created—and misused—would fail them when they were most needed. The truth is that it’s not even the fault of these idols but of the people for placing unreal expectations upon real things. When we place undue faith upon people, religious practices, or any other thing in this world, we set ourselves up for disaster. And since everything we do also affects the world around us, when we put unreal faith in real things, we also set the world up for disaster.
God continues, and says of Himself:
He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the Maker of all things, including the people of his inheritance— the LORD Almighty is his name (51:19 NIV).
The God of the Bible, Yahweh, goes to great lengths to let every generation know that He is not like other gods. He is not one of many ways, nor one of many religions, nor one of many paths to the same place. He makes it abundantly clear that He is the Creator of all things. They are not a part of Him, nor equal to Him, nor above Him; they are His creation. To put something in a place, other than that which it was created for, is to misuse it.
Into what things do you put unreasonable expectations? It is unreasonable to expect a person to be able to solve all the problems of a country in a four, or even an eight-year term. We must go along side our leaders. It is unreasonable to expect a bat to provide you with home runs. You must do the work to become a better hitter. It is unreasonable to expect sex to make a person love you. Sex is the response to committed relationship of love. It is unreasonable to expect money to make your problems go away. Our problems are typically the result of our unreasonable expectations of reality. It is certainly unreasonable to expect the real God to bow down or allow Himself to be equal with gods that we create.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Eph. 4:1-5)
I have a scar on the back of my arm that reminds me of what happens when I have unreasonable expectations of real things. I have a great deal of scars in my life that do the same thing. Our world may be in dire need of a reality check. How do your practices promote truth for the sake of others?
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet Sundays at 9 a.m. for Sunday school and 10 a.m. for worship. Everyone is welcome!