i think in metaphors. i try and understand things by associating them with other things which i may or may not think i understand. Sometimes i do this in the first degree, with willful intent. Other times it’s involuntary idea slaughter. The comparison, metaphor or similarity just pops into the ol’ oblong pumpkin unbidden, uninvited and with all the grace of Kramer barging through Jerry’s door. (Some of you will now need to go and look up reruns of Seinfeld. Nothing like derailing half your audience in the first paragraph. Without reasonable concern, we damn the torpedoes and pour on more steam!) (Some of you will now need to go look up Admiral David Farragut.)
So it was no surprise to me when studying what some people wiser than me have determined are the four underlying idols of our hearts that my mind was off into Ezekiel and Revelations and picturing the idols as demonic manifestations; twisted, bent copies of the cherubs of God. It was a compelling image in my head. A satanic pretender throne surrounded by the four faces of idolatry: Comfort, Control, Approval and Power. The four Needs. (Did you know our word ‘need’ comes from the German ‘Not’ which implies danger or emergency? How appropos to our topic at hand. Learning is fun and educational!)
The four cherubs are described as the Ox or Calf, the Man, the Eagle and the Lion (Ezek 1 and 10, Rev 4) Zeke saw them as four similar beings with four faces each. Johnny saw them as four separate creatures. Could be the difference in eye witness accounts of witnesses who are in the process of having their minds jellied by the Holiness of what they are witnessing but i tend to think God does this stuff on purpose. He is separate parts. He is one whole inseparable. He is paradox. Which is a fancy word for, He-don’t-fit-in-your-box cuz He made you and the box you came in.
The cherub’s likenesses are said to be symbolic and have been interpreted many ways and also assigned to the four gospels. Matthew the man, emphasizing the humanity and incarnation of Jesus. Mark the lion, emphasizing Christ the Lord over all powers and authorities. Luke the Ox, strength, servanthood and sacrifice. And drawing up the four, John with his high minded, spiritual Savior-Logos, the eagle. (Full disclosure here, cuz we’re friends and i like ya, look hard enough and you can find different assignations and symbology. Why? Cuz God didn’t say in His Word,
“Okay, Matt, you get man; John, you have to have the eagle cuz you’re so flighty, Luke, you get the cow and Mark gets lion.” And Luke spake unto him, “Aw man! Why does Mark get lion, i wanted lion!” And God answered him, “Mark wrote his first so he gets first pick. Deal with it.”
This part is church tradition. So hold it loosely.)
So in my mind, these idols become the four Needs, fallen angels with counter gospels, lies they tell us which are all variations on the same theme their boss, the serpent, gave Eve in the garden: "God doesn’t love you. You need to be your own god." Is it useful to think in such terms? i don’t know. If it keeps the conversation going; if it helps us look at our own sin and confess more intelligently; if it makes it easier to picture for us visual thinkers (nothing like having a self-possessed cow sitting on your lap to give you a mental image of temptation); if it helps somebody remember, ". If it doesn’t, then leave it alone. i don’t assume every thought that pops into my head is good for edifying and feeding the Body but enough of them have been that i would rather err on the side of sharing than bottling. Most days. So without anymore ado, cuz we’ve had enough ado, i give you the four Needs….
starting tomorrow. This post is long enough.