Saturday, September 22, 2007

# 219: American Idol

The K.I.S.S. acronym, “Keep it Simple, Stupid” is fitting to start this post. We all know what an idol is, and what idolatry is, or do we? Just to keep the meaning straight, let’s quote Webster.

Idol: 1) “an image of god, used as an object or instrument of worship; 3) any object of ardent or excessive devotion or admiration; . . . .” Idolatry: 1) “worship of idols; 2) excessive devotion to or reverence for some person or thing.”

In the Old Testament, most often an idol refers to statues made by the hands of Israelites, for purposes of worshiping gods. This infuriates/ed the Lord God more than most anything else.

In the New Testament, idolatry is used several times as things other than statues of worship. Ephesians 5:5. “For this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such as an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

Colossians 3:5-6. “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.”

What is the most desired and worshiped object in America, actually the world? Answer: MONEY. Yes, money is one of America’s most adored idols. And it is not money itself that is worshiped, but the power to give the possessors just about anything their hearts desire. Money makes life controllable, like living in heaven on earth. Putting it another way: find a hundred people in America who would refuse to be materially wealthy people. I doubt you will find them. Wealth—most often unknowingly—becomes a much-adored idol. That is the reason why God detests wealth; it replaces Him as the main object of power and superiority. Whatever the idols are, be it wealth or a person/s, those idols become the object/s of adoration/worship.

When a wealthy or prosperous person is called “greedy,” that handle is worse than a dirty, multi-lettered expletive. Therefore, they don’t use it to label anyone, at least to their face. They use countless ubiquitous words that make the word “greedy” into something honorable and respected. Let’s name just a few: “one is doing well, has reached the American dream, is ambitious, a go-getter, wealthy, prosperous, wise when it comes to money, a financially successful entrepreneur, has a good head when it comes to financing, knows where to put his/her money so that it grows leaps and bounds,” etc. All these people are looked up to by the majority of Americans. They love that feeling of superiority and they cherish the good feelings money brings. Can anyone blame them for embellishing an “Easy and Secure Life,” which is their idol?

Another way we don’t use the word “idol” is when we admire a person/s much more than is warranted. In fact, we silently look up to them as gods. I am speaking of church leaders, especially the loving ones and those of large and successful churches. They (the laity) believe that, regardless of what their clergy preach, it is gospel truth.

Then there are the dignitaries and high officials of government, along with those who have made names for themselves in business, sports, and many other respected endeavors. They won’t say it, but they worship these people and make them their role models, or paradigms. In short, they would love to be in their shoes. Of course, the majority would deny that accusation.

This verse has been used dozens of times in this blog and it would readily apply in this context: Luke 16:15. “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” Another verse that gives an explanation is in Luke 16:13. “You cannot serve both God and money.”

One reason God abhors wealth and highly desired things or people is because they bring secret pride, and pride in worldly things leaves God out in the cold. Our only pride must be in God and Christ.

That is not to say that wealthy or prominent people can’t become Christians. They can, but must not continue to be role models for other Christians who aspire to their stature. They must give generously to the work of Christ and devote prime time to knowing Christ and His holiness. They must denounce their wealth by generously helping the less fortunate and living a modest life. In no way are they to exhibit any signs of wealth, like large houses in exclusive neighborhoods, expensive motor vehicles, etc.

The main reason for the transformation of their lives is so that other people who are wannabe rich Christians, etc. won’t seek wealth as a Godly attribute. If they do, all other absolutely pertinent to Godly virtues, like love for God and neighbor, faith in Christ Jesus, obedience, etc., will unknowingly be put on the back burner. Money is that powerful and deceptive. As said previously, money and the power it gives are God’s biggest and strongest competition and Satan’s best friend.

Another must: When the wealthy give generously to charities and other notable avenues—can the rich be overly generous with all the needs in this world? It is impossible for them to be too generous—they must be certain their generosity is being channeled only through establishments that teach according to New Testament directives. The reason I say that is because if their money does not somehow lead a few people—hopefully many—to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and thus being saved, their generous giving will have no Godly value. Nothing will be added to their heavenly account. They will only be giving as secular charity does, and as important and necessary as that is, Christ and the giver receive no eternal credit or glory.

Here is a verse which tells what the rich, wealthy or prosperous who claim Christ as their Lord and Savior are to do with their wealth. 1st Timothy 6:17-19. “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of life that is truly life.” In contrast to this single section, there are dozens upon dozens of verses that condemn wealth. I have already brought them to the surface in other posts, so I won’t be redundant, as I often am. Click on post # 175: “The Dark Side of Money” and post # 153: “Anatomy of Wealth.”

Do you and I have a firm foundation for the coming age? 2nd Peter 1:10: “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall . . .”

Do we in the world, especially in America, know the difference between good and evil? Or have we blurred the dividing line between the two and made it into an overwhelmingly popular gray area that has taken over the arena of moral values? Ouch.

I am certain this type of teaching will not go over well in our materialistic culture. And that is sad to say. Many conventional churches promote wealth and back it up with the Old Testament, which has been revised/fulfilled by Christ. This is worthy of a loud repeat: From Matthew to Revelation, the New Testament says the contrary. There is only that one section, as mentioned above, in the New Testament that CONDITIONALLY justifies wealth in the genuine Christian life. Why is that? Please answer.

In conclusion, the overall lifestyle in America unequivocally says that the American Idol is people and/or money. What does God think about our condition? Is that a blessing from God, or is it something else, like condemnation? Remember, the title of one of our most patriotic songs is: “God Bless America.” In what way is/has God spiritually blessed America in accordance with the New Testament? This is an extremely important question. If you remain silent, your silence will speak louder than words. Leave your comments and criticisms.

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