Idols in Our Lives

Much of what I’ve been reading during this past week is how polarized our nation is currently. Many point to the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings as a seminal moment where this was on display for everyone to see. As I wrote last week, people are dug in on each side and convinced they are right and the other side is wrong. And the Supreme Court has become the battleground on which each side has committed to fight.

Given the nature of this blog, I won’t go into commentary on the those who do not claim to follow Jesus or even have an interest in him. Rather, my sights are set on the Christians on both sides of the divide, eager to fight and claim victory over the other side, whom they view with disdain at worst, or pity at best for how deceived they are.  What I realized recently during my morning workout is both have succumbed to idolatry. And the Supreme Court is their idol to which they bow down and toward whom they turn for justice. Each side, in essence, wants to pack the court with like-minded people. If only we can get our men/women on the court, we will have things the way we think they should be. If only we can block their man/woman from being confirmed, we will avert national disaster.

The first Commandment is, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3 NIV). The Israelites as they fled Egypt had a terrible time trusting in the Lord. They were prone to put their hope in other gods, usually the material kind made of gold or wood. In our society, we rarely have those kind of idols, but make no mistake, we have them.  And in the case of politically active believers, the Supreme Court has become one.

idol-7.jpgThink about the energy expended by believers strongly committed to one side or the other, through protests, social media posts, etc. I wonder if it is ever equaled by time in prayer for the nation and for our leaders which is commanded by the Scriptures. Do we really think the US Supreme Court is the key to the saving of our nation? If so, then we are no better than the Israelites who turned to the golden calf after having been led out of Egypt by Moses, or to the Queen of Heaven in the midst of the Babylonian Exile.

The danger is we turn our judicial system into an idol, our political system into an idol, our causes into things we worship, that is, give ultimate worth to. We come to believe they can save us and give us meaning. I see very few social media posts pleading with people to pray for our nation or to humble ourselves before God. Rather, I see hubris from many of my brothers and sisters extolling the virtues of their opinions and deriding others.

Of course, our idols aren’t just confined to the political realm. As fallen humans, we have an exceptional ability to make idols of almost anything—sports, our children, success, wealth, getting justice, status, religious rituals, a relationship, a goal or dream, a home, etc. Anything we, in practice, place greater value upon than the Lord of the Universe, is by definition an idol. “You shall have no other gods before me.”

One of the Enemy’s greatest schemes against western culture is to promote the idea of idolatry as some ancient practice or one confined to only certain cultures. As a result, Christians in the West are often completely blind to their idols—exactly as Satan intends.

As my heart and passion is for the Church and raising up children to be lifelong followers of Jesus, my question is this: Are we blindly passing along our idolatry to the next generation? If we do not recognize the idols in our lives, then we are in danger of doing exactly that. While many are disturbed by the violent imagery of much of the Old Testament, the Lord’s annihilation of many nations, including women and children, the threat of the Israelites being corrupted by idolatry was his reason for such action. He knew it would be passed down to future generations.

I see this first hand on campus in students raised in the church. They have a myriad of idols that take their place ahead of the Lord Almighty. Where did they acquire them? Can the blame be solely placed on the culture at-large or the University? I think not. They come to campus with many of them. And, in turn, when they have children of their own, if they have not relinquished these idols, they will pass them down to another generation.

The only way to end idolatry in the Church is to ask the Holy Spirit to identify the idols in our lives. Then, like the Ephesian believers, we acknowledge them, repent, and then destroy them, returning all of our worship to the one, true God, who is our Rock and our Redeemer, our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble, and the blessed hope upon which we fix our eyes and eagerly await his return to set things right. It is only then we will be in position to pass down true worship to the generations to come.

© Jim Musser 2018



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