In his weekend message Pastor Ed quoted Dr. Tim Keller on idolatry. This is a great statement. Keller stated: “Idolatry is taking good things and making them ultimate things.” We are familiar with our American idols such as money, fame and beauty or as illustrated in Ed’s sermon, workaholism, but we also idolize thoughts and beliefs.
We have created idols throughout our history and in our personal lives. Sadly, in the name of God, we have constructed idols believing we are so smart and holy. Idols have been used to batter people into submission and cause people to conform. They justify behavior and promote as truth values identified in the idol thereby cementing its power. Paul eloquently reflects the mind of God in detailing the human condition in Romans 1:21-25: For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.
Because man’s ideas and religion can become idols I think Christ-followers should conduct a self-inspection of ourselves and of our church and see if we have exchanged the truth of God, Jesus Himself, for a human construct – a lie. Oswald Chambers in the timeless classic, My Utmost For His Highest, writes: “Today we have substituted creedal belief for personal belief, and that is why so many are devoted to causes and so few devoted to Jesus Christ.” We run the significant risk of driving people away when we are devoted to a cause or creed rather than to Jesus Christ. I believe it prevents us from seeing a person because we are so caught up in our rhetoric. What are those doctrines, rituals, statements of faith or professions of “family values” that no longer are simply a reflection of God’s truth pointing us to a relationship with Jesus and now is the basis of judgment and condemnation? Which of the Ten Commandments have we crystallized into an ultimate thing that prevents us from connecting with someone with Christ’s grace and mercy? What “value” do we hold that blocks dialogue and seeking solutions? What thoughts about righteous living do we idolize such that someone visiting GateWay Church believes they must be spiritually clean or living “clean” before they can receive the Salvation of Jesus Christ?
I am doing an “idol” check this week.