On a bright Sunday morning Larry Lacour walked out of his home toward the car in his driveway. He was on his way to church in Colorado Springs but took a moment to wave good morning to his neighbor who was bowed down in worship. The man smiled as he stood up to wave before getting back to work waxing his Mercedes-Benz.
Dr. Lacour was my preaching professor in seminary and could tell a good story. This is more than a story, however. It reveals a truth I have never forgotten. Idolatry is about more than objects of wood, stone or some other building material.
It is a spiritual issue today as much as it was three millennium ago when God gave Moses the Ten Commandment’s, the second of which was “”You must not make for yourself an idol”. Idolatry, Tertullian said, “can be practised outside a temple, and without an idol.”
Chris Hedges in his book “Losing Moses on the Freeway” explains. “We are burdened by household gods, no longer made of clay, but all promising to fulfill us. Our computer, our television, our job, our wealth, our social status, along with the brands we wear and the cars we drive, promise us contentment in the form of identity.”
It may be a hobby or lifestyle we dwell on through our time, talent, and thoughts. Whatever “it” is, we believe it will bring well-being, health and success. In reality, they are not so subtle forms of self-worship by forces Hedges says “who seek to ensnare us”. Even attitudes of reverence given to a philosophy or a belief can become idolatry if they surpass the importance of knowing, loving and serving God through faith in Jesus Christ.
We would do well to remember there is a God, and we are not Him.
On the trip from Egypt to Israel the Hebrew people took a long rest break in the shadow of Mount Sinai. They sent Moses to talk with God for them on the summit. Although theirs was not the microwave society of today, they became impatient and approached Aaron, Moses brother. They told Aaron to make them gods, i.e. idols, to lead them because they did not know what had happened to Moses.
Aaron obliged them with the construction of the Golden Calf, a representation of the supreme god in that area and the universal god of fertility. They ate. They drank and they indulged in “revelry”; most likely meaning sexual activity. Their search for well-being and something to make them feel good was short sighted. Forty years of desert wandering followed their few hours of revelry.
The LORD Almighty is the only all knowing, all powerful, ever present and ever loving God who desires the best for us, rather than to use people for their own ends. “No Golden Calves here”, we say. It is in our best interest to be sure.