Monkey See, Monkey Do


As a father of three, I am increasingly beginning to realize just how much influence I have over my children, especially my boys. My boys look up to me. My boys want to be me. I see this in their mannerisms, their speech, their sense of humor, and even their cheering interests. They instinctively know to root for the Dodgers and anyone playing the Giants. They instinctively shout, “USA! USA!” whenever they see soccer on TV. As the saying goes, “monkey see, monkey do.”

The Bible also talks about this phenomenon, but in this case, the relationship is not between a father and his son, but an idol and its idolater. Psalm 115:4-8 says this:

 “They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.”

The Bible declares that the more we worship our idols the more we begin to look like them. The more we revere them, the more we reflect them. Or to put it in G.K. Beale’s words: “We become what we worship.”

This principle may be cute between a father and his kids, but absolutely devastating with idols and their idolaters. Why? As the Psalmist reminds us, idols are not alive. They are un-human. They cannot speak, see, hear, smell, or touch. As a result, the more we worship our idols the less human we become. Idols devolve us.

These dehumanizing effects can be seen in the power-obsessed husband who acts like an animal when threatened or the bone-skinny anorexic who looks less and less human. How many people spend countless numbers of hours each week staring at a computer screen, counting cards at a table, or vegging in front of the TV? Does this make us feel more alive? When we turn off the monitor, walk out of a casino, or get off the couch, do we feel existential satisfaction? Does it make us feel full? God did not design us to live for entertainment, leisure, or sports. He did not design us to worship the creation. He created us to live for him. As a result, many people exist but many do not quite live. Idols never give life. They take life. They leave you half-empty.

Thankfully, this is why Jesus came. He came to rescue us from our life-sucking idols. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). With Jesus, the principle of becoming what we worship actually works for us. When we bow down and live for the Creator rather than the creation, when we feast upon the Bread of Life, when we drink the Living Water, we become more human. We evolve.

We experience unspeakable joy, enduring peace, and soul-satisfying grace. This is the Jesus effect. We begin to talk like him, act like him, and love like him. Life is never more fully lived than when walking in the footsteps of the one who is the Resurrection and the Life. That deep ache in your soul will not be satisfied with a shiny fast car or a beautiful pair of shoes. That deep ache can only be satisfied by Jesus. Only in Christ will we understand the words of Psalm 16:11, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Join us at New Life and find out how you can experience this fullness of joy.

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