Sunday, March 01, 2009

# 272: Modern Idolatry

Webster’s Dictionary defines idolatry as: 1, worship of idols; 2, excessive devotion to or reverence for some person or thing.

Idol: an image of a god, used as an object or instrument of worship.

In Bible days, the word ‘idol’ usually meant a statue of some creature that was carved out of wood or stone or molded out of metal. Heathens would present their request to these idols in hope that their desires would materialize. These types of idols could not see, hear or talk. And yet, to this day, there are several eastern religions that worship idols in this fashion. This type of worship, although prevalent, is beyond my understanding.

But, when the word ‘idolatry’ is defined in a modern sense as stated above in number 2, I can understand that type of idolatry. That is what we have in the world nowadays. What is the root reason for intelligent human beings to act and live in that fashion? I am certain there are several reasons, but I think there must be something missing in their lives; they want to become like the one(s) they are idolizing. Good example: “American Idol.”

In conjunction with that thought, I, for the first time, watched the prelude (the red-carpet event) of the Academy Awards on TV last night, which is Hollywood’s biggest night. I watched it only to get some information for this post. One of the announcers said there are or will be over a billion people worldwide watching this event, along with a 15% increase in viewers this year. Looks like we are heading downhill. Also, the announcer said that 36 million households in America were watching; that is a staggering number.

Viewers of movies tend to forget that they are engaging in a make-believe world. Why would anyone continually what to fill his or her live with pretend stories (fairytales) when there is so much beneficial reality going on at all times?

As of the latest survey, about 90% of people in America believe in God. Of that number, I don’t know how many claim to be Christians, but according to Holy Scripture, no Christian should be watching that kind of trash. I am certain many reading this section will think I am out of my mind to say that.

The point I am making is how many of those nominated for the best of whatever are being idolized by millions of people in America and the world. Remember: if you didn’t know it already, America and many of the people living here are the role models (idols) of the world. Then we have the audacity to call America a Christian country. Sure!

I even heard one of Hollywood’s royalties say, “I idolize him,” whoever he was. After that, I was listening to them talking about the Oscars. I believe those 12-inch statues are the most desired, if not coveted, idols in America. Then as I watched the female nominees come on center stage to get interviewed, I think they all--except one--were having a contest of how much of their breasts they could show off without displaying their nipples. We become like those we gaze at. In this case I mean the female gender.

Since about 90% of the people in America believe in God, I am certain a large portion of them who claim to be “Christians” were watching the Academy Awards. What right do they have to fill their lives with such worthless trash? Regardless of why they enjoy that kind of stuff, watching that event alone unequivocally says, “If that’s what Christians are allowed to watch, Christianity is a pagan religion.”

Then there is the worship of physical things: things in which people give excessive devotion or admiration, be what it may. I don’t believe those people would call it idolatry, and by those I mean the ones who give excessive admiration to certain precious things/objects they are proud of. Regardless, in a Christian’s point of view, it is idolatry. The reason is because they, without knowing it, value that/those object(s) as more important than God.

There is a verse in the New Testament (NT) that sheds light on what one form of idolatry really is. Colossians 3:5: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature . . .and greed which is idolatry.” Therefore, since greed is associated with idolatry, we American Christians may be in big trouble. Then, the NT teaches in Luke 12:15: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.”

As I have already mentioned several times in this blog, we don’t use the word ‘greed’ anymore; in its place we have a myriad of friendly euphemisms that make our greed look acceptable and even admirable.

In America, we are taught right from day one to reach for the top of the ladder of success. When it is put this way, it is easy to see how greed and idolatry are associated.

We who claim to be genuine Christians must check our lives to see what or whom we may be idolizing. If and when we find something or someone, we should honestly ask ourselves, why are we doing this? Then answer that question without using a favorable or acceptable euphemism or other excuses. Of course, if we just call ourselves Christians but are not, we will not accept idolatry as sinful.

Idolatry of any form displays inner emptiness of anything of real value. I am certain many will deny that charge. I can understand why anyone without much of anything of spiritual value would need to idolize or worship things or people. It gives them a false sense of reality and worth. This type of idolatrous living is of epidemic proportions in America and possibly in most industrialized/civilized nations.

Anyone who is a genuine Christian will idolize Jesus Christ and the perfect life He lived, and no one else; He is our only role model. There is not much more to be said on this subject, except we are so used to giving accolades and honor to movie stars, athletes and the like, and it is called normal in a heathen country like America--my birthplace, although I am a citizen of another world, and am earnestly looking forward to living there.

When I use the word ‘heathen’, I am including many “Christian” denominations that have strayed so far from the truth, that if and when the truth was evident, they still would not believe it. The clergy is eager to go with the flow of the world, since they, most likely, are worldly also. That is a cruel indictment, but if I keep silent, their blood will be on my hands.

The less Godly wealth we have inwardly, the more we would subscribe to anything--if even for a short while--that makes us feel happy, content and fulfilled. The result of that type of action turns out to be no more than a mirage. To have inward wealth, one must get past the allurements the physical world offers and go to the One who promises wealth of the soul; only a genuine faith in God through Jesus Christ can give that sort of satisfying reality, which leads to eternal life.

Is it fair to say that the most desired idols in America are wealth and prosperity? That is the connection wealth has with greed. The more we get, the more we want. The only thing is that wealth can never truly satisfy the inward person. Another thing is that wealth is so uncertain, as is evident by what is happening in the economic and financial sector at this time. How many people have lost much, if not everything? Having money, ”The American dream” or what is wrongfully called “the good life” as an idol and being greedy may seem satisfying, but it has unknown pitfalls (becoming God’s enemy) along with a tendency to be fleeting. 1st Timothy 6:17: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, . . .”

Another two idols the majority of Americans have are entertainment and enjoying the pleasures of life. Luke 8:14: “. . . but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” 1st Timothy 5:6: “But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.” That goes for men also. James 4:3-4: “. . . that you spend what you get for your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” Luke 12:19-20: “And I’ll say to myself, You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry. God said to him, you fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” There are several more verses that also warn about the deadly harm that indulging in pleasures can do to anyone’s relationship with God. The pleasures of life become their idol.

If the NT is correct about idolatry, and it is, then you can see why I call this country of mine a mostly pagan nation. There are times I feel like Lot when he lived in Sodom, and I am certain others do also. I don’t believe many “Christians” understand what holiness is about in America. To be holy, from God’s perspective, means to separate oneself from the secular and the ordinary.

In conclusion, can we change our idolatrous ways? The time will come when it may be too late, and disaster will be upon us. This is not my prediction. Read the 18th chapter of Revelation. See if the United States of America is or isn’t living as it predicts. 1st John5:21: “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”

If anyone does not agree with the above prediction, please leave me a comment and show me where I am wrong. I would appreciate it.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

well...I personally think you are going too far. To idolize something truly you worship it. What you are describing is following in worldly footsteps...which is also of the devil. There is a version of idolatry in a certain denomination. What is that? Well Many Catholics will claim that they don't worship Mary...but..oh they do. That's idolatry! (She's not God, she's not Jesus...but they worship her!) And when you said that we should idolize Jesus...that's not right either. Worship him is the correct term. To idolize Him is possible if you do another Catholic practice of making a statue or something and do things like kiss it's feet. (Yeah I said "it", because the statue isn't Jesus)Nothing wrong with erecting images, but you shall not create any graven images! Hey, this is an artist speaking,so it's not like I'm speaking out against art. I love art, but art created to worship isn't just wrong...it's creepy!

JC said...

Aaron,

Thanks much for your input on this subject. I understand what you are saying. It may not be the correct term to say we must idolize Jesus Christ, but since He is or should be our only role model, I took the liberty to use that word to keep in context with the subject.

Remember, this subject is on modern idoltry. I don't believe many Americans idolize statues any more, except Catholics. We now idolize people and things.

Since you are an artist, you must be a very special person. What I mean is that not every person has tht ability to be an artist. I have a grandson who is an artist; he surprised me with his talent.

There is a lot of reading in this blog, enough to keep anyone busy for a long time. Let me know if you find any more errors. jc

kate said...

I would like to know where in scripture is says we should not fill ourselves with these things (movies). Granted, if someone is obsessed and is always in front of the television and has not made time for their family, the Word and our lord, there is definitely a problem. But I happened to watch a movie the other night; The secret life of bees, that sent me into an hour long prayer to Jesus for help. I identified with something tragic and it opened up my heart to receive the spirit that night.

Jesus talked in parables because there are hidden messages there to be deciphered. God created story tellers too. C.S. Lewis was a master story teller and a Christian of the greatest quality. His stories are about the kingdom of God and Aslan is the Jesus figure. Not all of us who appreciate a great work of fiction or well told human story on the big screen idolize the ones who make it.

I for one converted by a couple of timely movies that challenged my thinking. The danger is when Christ is not first in all that you do.

Keep up the good work, I will continue to visit.

kate

JC said...

Dear Kate,
Thanks so much for presenting us all with such timely and poignant questions and thoughts. I truly understand where you are coming from. The world we live in is our world and we must make the very best of it while living for Jesus Christ. This is not an easy matter. Most likely, 90% of the people around us are not devoted to promoting the cause of Jesus Christ. As we are lead by the Spirit of God He will help us make the correct decisions concerning why and what we should do and how we should live, of course, which will be according to what is taught in New Testament (NT) Scripture.
I am certain you know all this; but I give you a reminder. Most of the enticing things that the secular world continually throws at us are not in accordance with the NT. We have to decide what is what.
I understand that when we come home from work, we are ready to relax, but there are so many mundane chores that are our responsibility. You being a mother of two children and a housewife is a big responsibility. But the need to relax is still there.

As a young man, I enjoyed all kinds of movies, but for the rest of my adult life, I didn’t need or desire make-believe movies, even though I will occasionally watch a documentary or a Bible bases movie on TV. But I am choosy. In other words, sometime it is not easy to avoid entertainment the sounds exciting.
Now to your question and thoughts. The words entertainment and movies are not in Scripture; but the word pleasure is. We are not to be part of this world. What I mean is the things that people of this world enjoy are not the things people belonging to Christ enjoy, that is if they are recipients of the Holy Spirit.
The very last thing I desire to do is to alienate you from your Christian life, the NT and from this blog. Nevertheless, I must give you just a few Scriptures that you asked for.
2nd Timothy 3:4: “. . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” Luke 8:14: “but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worried, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” There are many more verses that warn about worldly pleasures. 1st John 2:15-16: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him. For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world.”
Kate, if you find time, read 1st John very carefully. If you would like, I could give you dozens more verses that teach us about the danger the things of the world present to. I know you will do the right thing. May God continue to bless you and your family forever. jc