Several times in the Old Testament, God refers to Himself as a "jealous God." Most of the time I would read this and think to myself, "Isn't that a bad thing?" I mean, isn't jealousy bad?
Recently, my look at jealousy has changed. I've learned this from my awesome girlfriend, Caitlin. And, I wouldn't have expected it, but she has told me herself that she is a "jealous girlfriend." What she meant was that when I spend my time with other people, she becomes jealous, in a sense, that I am not spending my time with her. This may sound selfish, but it really isn't. Regardless, I'm beginning to understand what God means.
Think of someone you care about immensely, preferably a loved one, but I guess it doesn't have to be. But it should be someone that you constantly want to spend your time with. Got it? Good.
Now imagine, you start seeing this person hang out with other people all the time or just doing things that don't involve you. You want to be those people so bad just so that you could be with your loved one. Or you want to be involved in whatever that thing is that doesn't have to do with you. Your own self-esteem begins to falter because you feel that you're not good enough for this person. They would rather spend their time with those people or that thing than you. It sort of hurts, doesn't it?
Well, surprise! God feels the exact same way. He's jealous of the things you spend your time with. He's jealous of your computer and your TV. He's jealous of your schoolwork, your girlfriend - anything that you seem to want to spend your time with that isn't Him.
And why shouldn't He? It makes sense doesn't it? The Creator of the Universe wants to spend time with you... but there is a really good episode of Lost on this week (for the record, I don't actually watch the show), or you're just really, really tired.
Now don't get me wrong here. Think about it. In this sense, jealousy is a sign of pure love. For Caitlin, it shows me that she loves me because she wants to be a part of my life. For God, it shows us that He wants to be involved with us. That's amazing!
I think our perception of idolatry needs to change. I consider myself a pretty knowledgeable Christian at times, but even I can't help but think of a large golden image (or a chocolate bunny for my Veggie Tale sympathizers) when I hear the word "idolatry."
Idolatry is spending time with things that don't involve God. And it's a big deal. It really is. That's why God gets so worked up about it all over the Old Testament. It insults the very nature of who He is. It insults the idea that He is worth every single breath in your being. And we're all guilty of it.
I should also mention that those things I mentioned earlier (girlfriend, computer, etc.) are not examples of idolatry in themselves. But what we need to do is use our time in a way that involves God in our lives. And hopefully, even better yet, we should be striving to the point where not only is He involved, but God becomes the focus and motivation of every single one of our activities.
I leave you with Deuteronomy 4:23-24:
"Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the LORD your God has forbidden. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God."