Greek mythology tells us about a young man named Narcissus. Shortly after his birth, his mother realized her young son was exceptionally beautiful and was advised by a prophet that Narcissus would live to a ripe old age “if he never realized how beautiful he was.”
Throughout his life, his mother kept Narcissus from seeing himself in the mirror. By the time he reached 15 years of age, every girl in town was in love with him—but all the attention resulted in a very cruel, self-absorbed boy.
One day while hunting in the woods, he approached a pool of water. Thirsty from his long, hot day in the woods, he bent over to get a drink. And as he leaned over, he saw his reflection.
Immediately, he became transfixed with his beauty. What stared back at him from the water was so mesmerizing, so magnificent, that he couldn’t pull himself away.
So enamored he became with himself that he couldn’t eat or drink and he eventually died of thirst and starvation. Because of his utter and complete self-absorption, Greek mythology tells us his soul was sent to the “darkest hell.”
And where he died, the narcissus flower grew—to serve as a reminder of the boy who fell in love with himself. Greek mythology tells us that Narcissus still keeps gazing on his image in the waters of the river Styx.
Following Narcissus’ example, many of us struggle becoming self-absorbed. You could say we’ve made idols of ourselves…which is the subject of today’s daily conversation.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Deuteronomy 4. The book of Deuteronomy entails the covenant God established with his people. In the first three chapters, God established the basis of their relationship. Chapter 4 consists of the prologue. In verse 1 we read, “Follow [God’s commands] so that you may live.” God doesn’t grant us salvation because we follow his ways, but following his ways do bring us life.
God sought to perpetuate the faith for generations to come. In verse 10 God tells his people, “Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” The primary location where our faith is perpetuated is not in church but at home. This brings a degree of responsibility on every parent (me included!). This keeps parents honest, because our children can compare what we say with what we do.
Verses 44-49 comprise the introduction to the covenant God entered into with Israel.
Luke 6:46-49. What’s the rock in Jesus’ parable? Many people refer to this parable and say Jesus is the rock—and while he is our rock, he isn’t talking about himself in this parable. The rock is obedience to his word. Jesus said the one who “hears my words and puts them into practice…is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock.” Obedience isn’t sexy. It rarely serves as the point of movies that break the box office. We gravitate to stories about the “rebel without a cause.” But in God’s economy, obedience is important. Doing what we know is right.
Psalm 68. Notice the object of God’s concern in this psalm: the fatherless, the widow, the poor. If you count yourself as one of these, be encouraged because God has special concern for you. If you don’t, pay attention to these people. If you’re interested in joining God in his work, then help them, too.
Proverbs 11:28. “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.” Following the theme of our study in Deuteronomy, trusting in riches is a form of idolatry. Sometimes I dream about what it would be like to win the Lotto and never have another care in the world. But that wouldn’t be the case because rich people have struggles, too. Most importantly, I think I would struggle with trusting in my riches rather than God. Maybe God knows it’s best for me not to be rich.
If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.
THE WORD MADE FRESH
The single most important aspect of the Jewish faith that set Israel apart from the other nations was that it allowed no image to be made of God. God didn’t want us worshiping his creation…he wanted us worshiping him. Unfortunately, we still struggle with this temptation today. We look to creation—relationships, activity, stuff, ourselves—to fill the hole in our heart. Looking to anything or anyone but God for our identity and fulfillment is idolatry.
Worshipping a God who we cannot see requires faith. Hebrews 11:1,6 tell us “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see…And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists.” All too often, we place our faith in something or someone we can see, knowing full well that the object of our faith will do little or nothing to fill the hole or meet our need. But it’s easier to place our faith in what we can see over what we cannot see.
My point is this: God wants to be the only one in whom we seek purpose, provision, fulfillment…everything. He doesn’t want to be the best version among a pantheon of gods. He wants to be our one and only.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- What or who is your idol of choice? Why does it appeal to you? How can you live in such a way that he is your “one and only”?
- Why do the stories in our society gravitate toward rebels?
- What do today’s readings tell you about God?
If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.
Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.