Human beings were made to reflect their Creator. Genesis 1:26 tells us that God created humans “in his image.” Humans were created as icons of God and are, by nature, reflective. By virtue of creation, we reflect what we worship. Ever since sin entered the world, however, humans have not worshipped the true God as they ought and therefore do not reflect the true God as they ought. But this does not mean that humans reflect nobody; it means that we reflect whomever we worship.
The writer of Psalm 115 touched in this. Contrasting Israel’s God, who “is in the heavens” and who “does all that he pleases” (v. 3), with the gods of the nations, who are merely human imaginings, the psalmist writes, “Those who worship [idols] become like them” (v. 8). As Greg Beale has said, “What people revere, they resemble, either for ruin or for restoration.”
Beale expands on this by picking up on the two places in the book of Romans where “image” is used.
In the first place (Romans 1:23), Paul writes of the pagans who substituted “images” for the true God. They chose to worship idols instead of the living God. Because they worshipped a twisted version of reality, they became twisted in their thinking and actions. They gave into “dishonourable passions” (v. 26) so that God gave them over to a “debased mind” (v. 28). The result is that “they were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless” (vv. 29–31).
By contrast, Paul later (Romans 8:29) uses the word “image” to speak of believers—worshippers of the true God—being ultimately conformed to the image of Christ. Because they worship the true God in beauty and holiness, they increasingly grow in beauty and holiness.
As you can see, you become what you worship. If you worship idols, you become like them and head toward destruction. If you worship the true God, you become like him and head toward glory.
So, consider, what, or whom, do you worship? How are you becoming more like your object of worship? Those who give their devotion wholly to social media influencers should not be surprised when they become vain and conceited. Those who worship the ground on which their favourite sports stars walk should not be surprised if they become aggressive and overbearing. Those who worship their career or wealth should expect to grow greedy, oppressive, and materialistic. Those who worship education are bound to become proud, arrogant, and condescending. Like it or not, we all become what we worship, for good or for bad.
That is why it is so important for Christians to show ultimate devotion to Jesus Christ. God’s plan is to increasingly conform us to the image of Christ until we one day reach full and final Christlikeness. But this will only happen to the degree that we worship Christ.
As you head into the weekend, with all manner of temptation before you, with all sorts of gods presenting themselves for your devotion, remember that you will become what you worship. Choose to worship Christ above all and grow in Christlikeness as God intends.