Making Sense of Idolatry?

So our family read the account in the Bible about Gideon tearing down the alters of Baal. The people, who claimed to be Jehovah's people, were so upset they wanted to kill him! One of our daughters couldn't make sense of that. People who claimed to follow God were not following God and were upset with someone who tried to help show them they needed to follow God. Pretty simple right? I couldn't argue with her theological logic. Yet, idolatry is often a matter of subtleness for the people of God. In the book of Judges (really throughout Israel's history) we find that the people had adopted the customs and practices of their unsaved counterparts around them. As such, Baal received places of worship and honor among the covenant people of the God of Abraham (for those who don't know, it wasn't Baal). It did not seem unusual or out of place to them. I read this quote this past week and it has stuck with me. "If we define an idol as an illegitimate object of worship, then idolatry is false worship, involving reverential human acts of submission and homage before beings or objects in the place of the one true God." Friend, pause for a moment to consider this statement. When we ascribe worship to an object other than God, it is illegitimate. Further, when we submit ourselves to it seeking satisfaction or help from it, it is offensive to God. WHY? Because we have sought to derive from someone or something else that alone which God alone can be. My concern is this- do we have such "idolatry" in our lives, picked up from the culture around us or created by our own desires, and seamlessly operating within our "Christianity"? Before any of us dismiss this as pre-Sunday pastor ranting, consider my concern: I think we've made ourselves the idol. We worship ourselves and seek to make everything else subservient to meeting our wants or demands.

- We want a God that doesn't disagree with us- He always wants to bless us by our definition of blessing.
- We have become consumers- Our perceived needs and emotions are what dictate whether a church, pastor, friend, music, etc. are valid.
- We want the assurance that comes from fellowship with Christ without any of the self-denial or followship. - We want Christian living and Church life that expects very little of us but always gives us what we want.
- We want to pursue and be attached to this world's typical endeavors rather than be detached as a pilgrim passing through.
- We want all of the verbiage without any of the context- Biblical words are now defined by subjective experientialism- worship, church, grace, liberty, blessings, etc.
- If something or someone calls us to accountability they must "hate" us and be our "enemy".
- The authority of the Scriptures can be said to be embraced without it actually having absolute authority in our lives.

It grieves me within my own life to find this by the conviction of the Spirit and to see it expressed in our congregation. It seems narcissism has usurped self-denial as the expected and accepted standard for a believer. The aspect of grace enabling us to deny ungodliness (Eph. 2:10, Titus 2:11-13, 1 Thess. 4:1-12, 2 Peter 2:1-4), being servants due to Christ's purchasing of us (1 Cor. 6:18-20, Col. 1:12-14, Eph. 1:7-14, 1 Tim. 2:3-6, Rom. 1:13-17), sanctification requiring the crucifixion of the flesh/self-denial (Rom. 6:1-6, Gal. 2:19-21, 5:16-26, Col. 3:1-10, Eph. 4:17-32), and Christ's glory being of supreme importance (1 Cor. 10:31, 2 Cor. 12, Rev. 4:11, Col. 1:15-19) are out of view. Friends, I think we should go back to my daughter's thought earlier- People who claimed to follow God but were not following God and were upset with someone who tried to help show them they needed to follow God doesn't make any sense.

-Pastor Paul

Paul Norton

Faith Baptist Church, 4215 Indian Ripple Road, Beavercreek, OH, 45440