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Modern Idolatry

Modern mankind creates more idols than historical man did, but they are just other kinds of idols.  Idols are certainly not new.  The Hebrews created a golden calf to worship when Moses didn’t come back from the mountain as soon as they thought he should.  God had led them out of Egypt.  Yet they didn’t construct a statue to God, but created their own “god” in the form of a golden calf to worship.  The Hebrews consistently went back and forth from worshiping God to idol worship throughout the Old Testament.  They did this for the same reason that people create idols today, they wanted to create something that they could subscribe their own subjective, worldly desires to, and worship what was fun and exciting rather than living as God wanted them to live.  Moses found the people dancing and partying, some naked, when he came back from receiving the Ten Commandments.  Today we have streamlined this process.  The new humanism philosophy says we should worship ourselves.  We are now our own Gods. We can do whatever we think is good for us to do.  This, obviously, is not a workable philosophy because what we may want more often than not collides head on with what another wants to do. Still, we have elevated ourselves above God, replacing Him with us, or denying Him altogether.

We also create idols of other humans in the form of philosophers, actors and rock stars who feed into our personal desires and likes.  American Idol is a prime example of this new humanist idolatry.  Every year one person is elevated to the position of idol by the judges and the people who watch the show. In the secular sense, this is a good thing. One person who has worked very hard developing his or her talent is recognized for the effort and becomes a house-hold name.  Talent scouts find performers of possibly equal ability and elevate them also with singing contracts.  In that sense it is a good show that is doing a service to the public.   The person who the people most closely identify with are given a chance to succeed.  In another way, such programming is doing the people a grave disservice.  The attention given the new idols detract attention from God, who should be the one who is worshipped.  My photograph of the American Idol bus in front of the church in Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico, graphically portrays this dichotomy.  The two symbols of man’s worship are superimposed on each other in the photograph.

 

 

We make idols as a form of personal affirmation.  Certainly we support these idols because they are good performers, but also because one, their music resonates with our personal wishes and desires. And two, because subconsciously we identify with them and want to be them, if not singers then in whatever form we want.  Last winter, someone who donated clothes to a homeless shelter included several Superman and Batman Halloween costumes. The costumes were snapped up faster than the more practical clothing.  In the next month homeless Supermen and Batmen carrying backpacks and bedrolls were seen throughout Albuquerque.  This may seem funny, but you and I do the same thing to a lesser extent when we support human idols in any form.  A post on my Facebook page two days ago showed an “evangelist” of sorts preaching in front of a banner proclaiming him as “The new owner of the world”.  The man has thousands of followers and is becoming wealthy.  It seems that no one has stopped to think that the only “new owner” of the world will be the antichrist, and who would want to follow him?  We also believe that if they can do it, we can do it too.  Seeing someone win American Idol or become famous gives us hope, however slim, that we can do the same thing.  This vicarious affirmation gives us the feeling of worth, that we are valuable.  And you are valuable.  I’ll get to that below.

God, from the beginning, has told us that there is to be no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:31; Deuteronomy 6:14; 2 Kings 17:35).  Jesus told us we should “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength” ( Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30).  This doesn’t leave room for other human idols.  I don’t see anything wrong with having favorite singers, providing the music doesn’t conflict with God’s word.  When Carrie Underwood was competing against Bo on American Idol I was fairly sure Ms. Underwood would win, because she believed in what she was singing, and her music was positive.  I’m not a music expert, but I thought Bo was technically the better singer.  But he didn’t really believe in what he was singing.  He wasn’t projecting his values and aspirations the way Carrie did.  And that is why Ms. Underwood won that year.  She has, with fame and fortune,  shifted her musical priorities.  That is unfortunate.  It is the reason why Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.  Most rich people, not all, make an idol out of money.  They put money ahead of God.

We also create idols out of fear.  We have a lot of stress in our lives, and stress is a product of fear.  Fear comes from a sense of not having control of our lives or the situations in our lives.  Idols give us a false sense of security because with becoming an idol comes a false sense of control over life.  We try to do everything ourselves.  There was a TV commercial some years ago for a headache remedy in which a woman snapped at her mother, “I’d rather do it myself!” But pills relieve just the pain of  a headache, not the stress that caused the headache, which was caused by the woman trying to cope with all the issues in her life without help.  Likewise, cold remedies relieve the discomfort of a cold, but don’t cure the cold.  And by feeling better, many go out into bad weather, go back to work and do other things that tire them out and lower their resistance to fighting the cold virus.  The false sense of well being can lead to a person developing  worse sicknesses. A result is that hundreds of people die every year from a simple cold.  The false sense of security can be fatal.

Making idols of humans can also be fatal when the idol replaces God.  Human idols give us a false sense of control. They are fallible.  They rise-and they fall.  The idols from the time of my youth are now all dead, except for a few.  And, some of them are in prison. Those former idols weren’t the role models I and millions of other people thought they were, and all the money we paid them by buying their records or watching their movies couldn’t save them.  Neither can they save us.

The Bible tells us that Jesus was, is, and will always be forever.  The Apostle John started his gospel by writing ” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life and the life was the light of men…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” ( John 1:1-3,14).  The Word, Jesus, tells us He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him.  He is the true object of our worship that will never fail, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end.  Christ never leaves Christians, and He and the Holy Spirit guide and help us through the trials in our lives.  He doesn’t remove the hardships we face, but He makes sure we get through them. By relying on Him we are more than conquerors.

Relying totally on Christ and the Holy Spirit isn’t easy.  It goes against our human nature.  But it is the only true security we have that won’t fail. “In this world you will have tribulation” Jesus tells us, “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  And, through Him we also overcome the world.  We can’t help being in the world, and we should as Christians be for the world, but we must not be of the world. Keep Jesus as your main priority and rely on Him.  Through Him you do have value, you are worth a lot, not  only to God but to all the people you come in contact with in your life who can see or at least feel Him shining out to them through you.

 

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