26th April


Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5: 21

The first thing that comes to mind when idols are mentioned are the carved figures of pagan faiths. Bear in mind, however, as you read the following story, that an idol is an expression of a universal tendency – to substitute some thing in the place of God. Behind all idolatry is the desire to control, to make God in our own image, to chase after illusions.

As Samson passed through the Hundred of Twigg, in Cornwall, he heard a group of people acting out a ritual in honour of a god. He stilled the brothers, and as he silently watched. In order not to appear threatening Samson took just two brothers with him and greeted their leader, Guedianus. Gently, he explained that it was not good to forsake the one God who created all things in order to worship one created thing. This brought varied reactions. Some jeered, some were angry, some argued that since it was tradition it surely could not be wrong, others simply told him to go away.

Circumstances, however, intervened, and Samson believed that God, unlike the idol, could use these circumstances. A lad who had been driving some horses far too fast, fell headlong from his horse, and twisted his head badly as he fell. He lay on the ground like a lifeless corpse; everyone gathered round, and as they realised they could do nothing, they began to weep. Samson took an initiative.  ‘You can see that your idol can do nothing for this fellow’, he said, ‘ if you promise you will destroy and cease to worship this idol, I, with God’s assistance, will restore him to life’. The pagans agreed. Samson asked them to withdraw and prayed over the lad for two hours. At the end of that time he delivered him safe and sound. The pagans destroyed their idol, and gave their allegiance to Samson. He instructed and baptised them as Christians. On the hill, in place of the idol, Samson carved a cross on a standing stone in his own hand.

The dearest idol I have known
What’ere that idol be
Help me to tear it from thy throne
And worship only Thee
William Cowper