“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me.
What does the sin of idolatry look like today? Introducing…the modern day golden calf!
Let’s look at the Jews from the old testament…God performed a series of incredible miracles, rescued them from slavery in Egypt, then parted the Red Sea so they could escape Pharaoh’s army. But their memories were so short that when Moses went up on a mountain to talk with God, they built a golden calf and started worshiping it.
Imagine believing that a man-made pile of shiny metal could fulfill any of your needs!
Today we call them cars. Notebook computers. Cell phones. Big screen TV’s. Fashion. Relationships. Jobs. Ourselves.
Advertising agencies aren’t stupid enough to write commercials that say, “Introducing the 2011 Golden Calf,” but the pitch is pretty much the same.
In many ways, we Christians are no different from our unbelieving brothers. We’re fascinated with anything that promises convenience, instant gratification, and a better life. Anything that gives us an edge over the other guy seems irresistible. The bigger the item, the bigger we feel.
There’s nothing wrong with having possessions, but we have to be careful to keep them in perspective. They can steal too much of our time and attention.
It’s all as ridiculous as the Jews’ golden calf, except for one thing. We’re looking to material objects for what only God can give us: a sense of worth.
We, for some reason think we don’t need God. We believe all of our material possessions, as well as other idols in our lives, are security blankets. If this is you I’m talking about, you’re in trouble. What happens when all of these things starts to depart from you one by one?
Inevitably, God allows us to crash, lose everything. Sometimes he has to let us crash several times before we figure out that we’re not as smart as we think. Some Christians never figure it out. They go through one crash after another, getting it together just long enough for the next crash.
Or they go from one golden calf to another, hoping “the next big thing” will do the trick. Christians should know better, but we fall for it too. We forget the First Commandment: “I am the LORD your God … You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2-3, NIV)
We make our job our god, or some talent we have, or some achievement or even ourselves. We get in trouble and there’s only one way out.
That way is coming to our senses and coming back to God. Jesus was talking about all of us in his parable of the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15:11-32.
The son, who turned independence and enjoyment into his golden calf, finally came to his senses and returned to his father’s house. In verse 20 we see one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture:
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20, NIV)
That is the kind of God we worship. How foolish to choose any kind of golden calf over his stupendous, unconditional love.
We Christians must be constantly vigilant. We must appreciate where our worth lies. But when we stray, as we sometimes do, we must not be afraid to come back home to God, because it is in him, and only him, that we will find the meaning and sense of importance we so desperately long for.
If we are to escape modern idolatry, we have to admit that it is rampant and reject it in all its forms. It is not of God, but of Satan, and in it we will never find fulfillment. This is the great lie and the same one Satan has been telling since he first lied to Adam and Eve. Sadly, we are still falling for it. Even more sadly, many churches are propagating it in the preaching of the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel built on the idol of self-esteem. But we will never find happiness focusing on ourselves. Our hearts and minds must be centered on God and on others. This is why when asked what is the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). When we love the Lord and others with everything that is in us, there will be no room in our hearts for idolatry.
Scripture of the day: For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. ~ 1 John 2:16 NIV
Pastor Peter Okereke Jr.
The Living Word Ministries Inc.
Copyright Reserved, 2011.
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