Friday, September 11, 2009

American Idols

In the last couple years I have traveled to several different countries, each known in its own way for their idolatry. And while the idolatry of India, Africa and Central America may be terribly obvious, with their shrines, offerings and devotion to inanimate objects and deities, it has struck me that we in the West are no less idolatrous.

Certainly, the idolatry of India is pronounced. It’s said the Hinduism has produced some 300 million “gods” and “goddesses”. Everywhere we went throughout the country there were small shrines with incense, food offerings and candles being offered to pagan deities. On the streets, in restaurants and even in the dashboards of taxis we used. Shiva the Destroyer and Ganesh the blue elephant are terrible to behold in all of their fell demonic glory. Yet in Mexico, the shrines and the offerings were identical but the images lovelier. Instead of Ganesh and Shiva they worship Mary, the mother of Jesus and other saints. The most obviously demonic was “Holy Death” or Grim Reaper. To them, the one the Bible calls “the last enemy to be destroyed” is worshiped as a saint. How bizarre.

Yet, when I come home to America, we revel in our ingenuity and glory in our intellect. Certainly we are far too advanced of a civilization to worship dumb idols and erect shrines to our gods. Or are we?

As I look around my home in the States I see the same look of devotion and commitment to “gods” other than the one true God and His Son, Jesus Christ. We erect shrines all right and we give costly sacrifices and offerings at the altars of our idols, they are just prettier than the gods of India, yet no less captivating. Remember that the true test of devotion to an idol is how much we trust in it rather than God and I would venture to say that our trust in many ways is NOT in the Lord, but in other things.


Without a doubt here in the United States we worship money. Jesus called the Spirit behind the love of money and the pursuit of things Mammon and made a startling contrast saying, “You can’t serve both God and money” making the Spirit of Mammon one of the ultimate adversaries or enemies of true worship of God.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Matthew 6:24

Yet in the US and especially in the church, the pursuit of money and things is a full time obsession. Christians are urged from the pulpit to exercise their faith to get more stuff and be more comfortable in ever larger and larger homes, cars and excessive lifestyles. The #1 destroyer of marriages in the US is financial pressure as people are pushed to the brink to pay the bills for the stuff we don’t really need!

Aren’t we exhorted in the Gospel to be content with what we have, whether little or much? I don’t see any encouragement whatsoever to better our life situation by the accumulation of more and more “stuff”.

“Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.”
Philippians 4:11

“For we brought nothing into the world, and obviously we cannot take anything out of the world; But if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”
I Timothy 6:7-8

There is virtually NOTHING that we here in the US will not do for money. We sacrifice our time, energy, calling, marriages, families and eternal destinies for the pursuit of things and are encouraged and cheered on by many in the church. Our lives are virtual graveyards of relationships, destinies and callings sacrificed to our favorite idol with benefits, Mammon.

Now there is nothing inherently wrong with money and I would MUCH rather be comfortable

driving a nice car and living in a nice house than some piece of junk. But the Biblical response is to seek FIRST the Kingdom and God will give us everything we NEED, not necessarily all we WANT. Instead of sacrificing our walk with God and our marriages and families for the sake of money, why don’t we like Paul learn to live contentedly with less for the sake of the Gospel?

Mammon, the pursuit of “wealth” and other “things” are a true American Idol.


In the United States, one of our ultimate idols is the pursuit of “Self”. We have self-help, self-awareness, self-consciousness and self-discovery. The doctrine of Oprah and Dr. Phil have infected the pulpits of the church. We are drowning in a sea of self love as we are encouraged more and more to “discover” who we are and love ourselves. In the church we have a very serious plague of selfishness as we hop from place to place to see “what’s in it for me” and all the while making place for “me-time”.

But isn’t the EXACT opposite nature of the Gospel?

“For the others all seek [to advance] their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ (the Messiah).”
Philippians 2:21

The Bible says that pagans run after and are concerned after their own interests, but NOT those of Jesus Christ! If we are to be the salt and light we are called to be, let’s start by maybe sacrificing our personal interests for those of others. Isn’t that the very definition of love?

“No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.”
John 15:13

Our willingness here in the United States to sacrifice all on the altar of the demon god of self is proven. In the name of “self” we have slaughtered countless innocent children while indefensible in the womb. We call it abortion. But the worst part of it is in the why. Why have millions of babies been aborted? Because the children we would have had would be an inconvenience to our selfish lifestyle. The ultimate blood sacrifice of human life is done all in the name of self.

Make no mistake America, we are no less devoted to our gods than the heathen of India, Africa or Central and South America. If devotion is measured by what we are willing to give up in pursuit of our demon gods, we win.

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