Subtle Idolatry

 "For my people have done two evil things:
They have abandoned me—
the fountain of living water.
And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns
that can hold no water at all!
Jeremiah 2:13 (NLT)
One of the classic stories of the Bible involves the dramatic release of the fledgling Hebrew nation from the oppressive Egyptian empire.  This is done through God's dramatic and miraculous intervention that culminates with the spliting of the Red Sea,  As the story continues, the Hebrew people are brought to Mt. Sinai, where God would summon their leader, Moses, to receive the laws for governing his people.  This conversation would take 40 days.  In those 40 days, in the absence of their leader, the Hebrew people would demand to make a statue that would represent the God who brought them out of Egypt. (see the entire book of Exodus).

One of the interesting notes of this story is that the Hebrews did not think they were worshiping a different God, but that the statue represented the authentic God.   It is that tension:  Keeping God as the object of worship while removing him as the subject of worship that defined their idolatry and if we admit it, often defines contemporary idolatry.

In the Hebrew perception, they never stopped worshiping God.  Bowing down to the golden bull was worshiping God to them.  This is a subtle shift, but a devastating one in our faith.

Today, we often commit idolatry while going through the motions of a faith focused upon following Jesus.  We place people, possessions, pleasures and positions in front of God while claiming to worship God through them.  While all along, we are co-opting the name of God to worship something of our choosing.

The goal of this blog is not to be negative, or to point fingers, but to allow the word of God to convict you if this applies to you.  I recognize in my life how often I allow idolatry to have a foothold in my life and thoughts.  It can be subtle and appear even honorable, but anything or anyone that you honor above God, is idolatrous.  Here a couple of points regarding contemporary idolatry:

1. The presence of disobedience to God is a signpost to Idolatry.  If we are specifically not doing God's will or choosing to disobey a clear command, then whatever is motivating us is idolatry.  Keep in the mind that the Idol may be self.

2. The expression of faith in Jesus Christ does not eliminate the presence of Idols.  Many people feel that if they go to church and do church related things that they are not being idolatrous.  Remember the story of the Hebrews and their ability to worship God and be idolatrous simultaneously.  We often do the same. 

3. Our actions and attitudes demonstrate what we honor most.   Ultimately, we we honor most controls what we do.  The early scripture would challenge us to demonstrate our faith by what we do, not merely on what we say (James 3:18).  If I claim to honor God, but yet my actions are self-serving, selfish, and greedy, then I am truly worshiping myself but co-opting the name of Jesus to justify it.

4. Renewal movements begins when the people of God realize their idolatry and return to the living God.  In the Royal history books of the Old Testament (I and II Kings, I and II Chronicles), time and time again the people would be led to remove idols and return to God.  This would lead to a time of renewed worship and tangible blessings.  In the New Testament book of Acts, we see the people of Ephesus, beginning a movement of God through first identifying and destroying idols (Acts 19:17-20).

I believe that God is beginning a renewal movement.  I believe it begins when you and I realize that we have allowed the things of life to usurp the authority of priority and preeminence of God in our lives.  Its time to return to the fountain of living water and drink of the water that truly satisfies instead of trying to build our own satisfaction through God substitutes.

Join me in praying:

My God, you are from everlasting to everlasting.  You are before all, above all, and know all.  I recognize that we have allowed ourselves to give to idols, that which should be given to you.  We have shamelessly traded your glory for the temporary pleasure of Idols (people, possessions, positions, pleasures) and we not only confess that, but repent right now.  By your grace and mercy, lead us by your spirit so that we can worship you and your alone, in spirit and in truth.  May your grace help us to prioritize our affections so that you you are continuously honored and that others may be continually blessed in our lives. 

In the Precious name of Jesus we pray,


God bless you all,

Pastor M Traylor