“Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:3-4)
We were created to worship. Every human being has a need to worship and we act on that need all the time. If you were to attend a football game, you would see a worship event of sorts. The same is true of a rock concert. Another example would be the rectangular object that sits at the front of your living room that you so faithfully watch – this too can become an idol if we are not careful. And if you have ever been to Disneyworld before, it offers a worship experience for all who attend. The list goes on and on.
The question is not “if” we worship – we all do. Rather, the question is “what” we worship. The Scriptures are clear on the fact that there is only One who is worthy of worship and adoration. “It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by His name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you – for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God – lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you off the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 6:13-15)
Just like today, the ancient world in which the bible was penned (over the course of 1500 years) offered no shortage of worship opportunities. If these images or gods were worshipped, they would bring some sort of benefit to the worshipper, or so it was thought. Even today, we don’t worship something unless we think if will bring value to our life, even if it is just a “good feeling.” We must understand, however, that idol worship tends to be sneaky. It seems harmless at first, but ends up demanding our worship and controlling our lives.
I love the way Tim Keller, a NYC pastor, explains the problem of idolatry:
“The human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because, we think, they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfillment, if we attain them.” Thus anything can be an idol and, really, everything has been an idol to one person or another. The great deception of idols is we are prone to think that idols are only bad things. But evil is far more subtle than this. “We think that idols are bad things, but that is almost never the case. The greater the good, the more likely we are to expect that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes. Anything can serve as a counterfeit god, especially the very best things in life.”
What then is an idol? “It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.”
All too often these “good things” become “ultimate things.” We fall prey to idol worship. Even if we say that God is most important in our lives, how we actually live tells a different story. What is most worthy, most valued, most loved is clearly not God. We need to be very careful that this does not become a reality in our lives.
In Romans 1, Paul explains how misplaced worship leads us down a slippery slope:
“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 1:20-25)
How silly, we think, to worship and serve the created rather than “the One” who created. Yet, it happens all the time, and even in our own lives if we were willing to admit it. The solution: worship the Lamb. Worship Him who is truly worthy of our praise – Jesus. Ask God to reveal the idols or counterfeit gods that may have snuck into your life. I can assure you that He will give you the power to overcome. Also ask God to show you more of the beauty, glory, majesty, desirability, and worth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Falling in love with Jesus means falling out of love with the world and it is a great cure for misplaced worship.