Worship or idol worship

525 worship service For some people, a discussion about the worldview seems more academic and abstract - far from everyday life. But for those who want to live a life that is transformed into Christ by the Holy Spirit, few things are more significant and have more profound implications for real life. Our world view determines how we view all sorts of issues - God, politics, truth, education, abortion, marriage, the environment, culture, gender, economics, what it means to be human, the origins of the universe - just to name a few.

In his book The New Testament and the People of God, NT Wright comments on the following: "Worldviews are the foundation of human existence, the lens through which the world is seen, the blueprint as seen in They are supposed to live, and above all they anchor an identity and homeland feeling that enables people to be what they are, ignoring worldviews, either their own or that of another culture that we are studying, would become one lead extraordinary superficiality " (Page 124).

Orientation of our worldview

If our worldview, and therefore our connected sense of identity, is more worldly-oriented than Christ-centered, it somehow leads us away from Christ's way of thinking. For this reason, it is important that we recognize and treat all aspects of our worldview that are not subject to the reign of Christ.

It is a challenge to align our worldview more and more to Christ, because when we were ready to take God seriously, we usually already had a fully developed worldview - one that was both osmotic (Influence) as well as deliberate thinking. The formation of a worldview is similar to the way a child learns its language. It is a formal, deliberate activity of the child and the parents as well as a process with a very special purpose in life. Much of it just happens with certain values ​​and assumptions that feel right to us because they become the foundation from which we do evaluate (both consciously and subconsciously) what is going on in and around us. It is the unconscious reaction that often becomes the most difficult obstacle to our growth and testimony as followers of Jesus.

Our relationship to human culture

Scripture warns us that all human cultures are, to some extent, out of tune with the values ​​and ways of the Kingdom of God. As Christians we are called to reject such values ​​and ways of life as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God. Scripture often uses the word Babylon to describe cultures hostile to God and calls them "the mother ... of all abominations on earth" (Revelation 17,5 New Geneva Translation) and encourages us to adopt all godless values ​​and behaviors in the culture around us To reject (world). Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote about this: "No longer follow the standards of this world, but learn to think in a new way so that you can be changed and judged whether something is God's will - whether it is good whether God enjoys it and whether it is perfect " (Romans 12,2 New Geneva Translation).

Beware of those who want to trap you with an empty, deceptive philosophy, with views of purely human origin that are all about the principles that govern this world, not Christ (Colossians 2,8 New Geneva Translation).

Essential to our vocation as followers of Jesus is the need to live in an anti-cultural way, as opposed to the sinful characteristics of the culture around us. It has been said that Jesus lived with one foot in Jewish culture and was firmly rooted in the values ​​of the Kingdom of God with the other foot. He often rejected culture in order not to be captured by the ideologies and practices that were an insult to God. However, Jesus did not reject the people within this culture. Instead, he loved her and had compassion for them. While emphasizing aspects of culture that contradicted God's ways, he also emphasized aspects that were good - in fact, all cultures are a mixture of both.

We are called to follow the example of Jesus. Our resurrected and ascended Lord expects us to voluntarily subordinate ourselves to the guidance of His Word and Spirit so that, as faithful ambassadors of His Kingdom of Love, we shine the light of His glory in an often dark world.

Beware of idolatry

To live as ambassadors in the world with their different cultures, we follow Jesus' example. We are constantly aware of the deepest sin of human culture - the one that poses the problem behind the problem of a secular world view. This problem, this sin is idolatry. It is a sad reality that idol worship is widespread in our modern, self-centered Western culture. We need alert eyes to see this reality - both in the world around us and in our own world view. Seeing this is a challenge, because idolatry is not always easy to spot.

Idolatry is the worship of something other than God. It's about loving, trusting and serving something or someone more than God. Throughout the Scriptures, we find God and God-fearing leaders who help people recognize idolatry and then give it up. For example, the Ten Commandments begin with the prohibition of idolatry. The Book of Judges and the books of the prophets report how social, political, and economic problems are due to people who trust in someone or something other than the true God.

The great sin behind all other sins is idolatry - refraining from loving God, obeying him and serving him. As the apostle Paul stated, the results are devastating: "For despite what they knew about God, they did not give him the honor he deserved and were indebted to him. They lost themselves in senseless thoughts and in their hearts who lacked any insight, it became dark. Instead of the glory of the imperishable God, they put images ... Therefore, God left them to the desires of their hearts and abandoned them to immorality, so that they mutually degraded their bodies " (Romans 1,21:23; 24; New Geneva translation). Paul shows that unwillingness to accept God as the true God leads to immorality, corruption of the spirit and darkening of the heart.

Anyone interested in realigning their worldview would do well to study Romans 1,16: 32, where the apostle Paul makes it clear that it is against idolatry (the problem behind the problem) must be addressed if we want to keep producing good fruit (make wise decisions and behave morally impeccably). Paul remains consistent on this point throughout his ministry (See, e.g., 1 Cor 10,14, where Paul exhorts Christians to flee idolatry).

Training our members

Considering the fact that idolatry thrives in modern Western cultures, it is important that we help our members understand the threat they face. We should reflect this understanding of an insecure generation that regards idolatry only as a matter of bowing to physical objects. Idolatry is much more than that!

However, it should be noted that our calling as church leaders is not to constantly point out to people what exactly idolatry is in their behavior and thinking. It is your responsibility to find out for yourself. Instead, we are called "helpers of their joy" to help them recognize the attitudes and behaviors that are symptomatic of idolatrous ties. We need to make them aware of the dangers of idolatry and give them biblical criteria so that they can review the assumptions and values ​​that make up their worldview to determine if they are consistent with the Christian faith they profess.

Paul gave this kind of instruction in his letter to the church in Kolossä. He wrote about the connection between idolatry and greed (Colossians 3,5 New Geneva Translation). If we want to own something so much that we desire it, it has conquered our hearts - it has become an idol that we emulate, thereby suppressing what God deserves. In our time of rampant materialism and consumption, we all need help to fight the greed that leads to idolatry. The whole world of advertising is designed to instill in us a dissatisfaction with life until we buy the product or indulge in the advertised lifestyle. It is as if someone had decided to create a culture that should undermine what Paul Timothy said:

"But piety is a great benefit for those who can be satisfied. Because we have not brought anything into the world; that is why we will not bring anything out. But if we have food and clothing, we want to be satisfied with it want to get rich, fall into temptation and entanglement and into many foolish and harmful desires, which let people sink into ruin and damnation, because greed for money is a root of all evil; after that some lusted and they strayed from the faith and make themselves A lot of pain" (1 Timothy 6,6: 10).

Part of our vocation as church leaders is to help our members understand how culture appeals to our hearts. It not only creates strong desires, but also a sense of entitlement and even the idea that we are not a valuable person if we reject the advertised product or advertised lifestyle. The special thing about this educational task is that most of the things that we idolize are good things. In and of itself it is good to have a better home and or a better job. However, when they become things that determine our identity, meaning, safety, and / or dignity, we have given admittance to an idol in our lives. It is important that we help our members realize when their relationship to a good cause has become idolatry.

Identifying idolatry as the problem behind the problem helps people set guidelines in their lives to know when to take a good thing and make them an idol - something they relate to in terms of peace, joy, leave personal meaning and security. These are things that only God can really offer. The good things that can turn people into "ultimate things" include relationships, money, fame, ideologies, patriotism, and even personal piety. The Bible is full of stories about people who do this.

Idolatry in the age of knowledge

We live in what historians call the age of knowledge (in contrast to the industrial age in the past). In our day, idolatry is less about worshiping physical objects than it is about worshiping ideas and knowledge. The forms of knowledge that most aggressively try to win our hearts are ideologies - economic models, psychological theories, political philosophies, etc. As church leaders, we leave God's people vulnerable if we don't help them develop the ability to self judge when a good idea or philosophy becomes idol in their hearts and minds.

We can help them by training them to recognize their deepest values ​​and assumptions - their world view. We can teach them how to recognize in prayer why they respond so strongly to something in the news or social media. We can help them ask questions like these: Why did I get so angry? Why do I feel that strong? What value does this have and when and how did that become a value for me? Does my reaction give glory to God and does it express the love and compassion of Jesus for the people?

Also note that we ourselves are aware of the "sacred cows" in our hearts and minds - the ideas, attitudes, and things we don't want God to touch, the things that are "taboo". As church leaders, we ask God to realign our own worldview so that what we say and do will bear fruit in the kingdom of God.

Closing Remarks

Many of our missteps as Christians are based on the often unrecognized influence of our personal world view. One of the most damaging effects is the diminished quality of our Christian witness in an injured world. Too often, we address pressing issues in ways that reflect the partisan views of the secular culture that surrounds us. As a result, many of us hold back to address the issues in our culture, making our members vulnerable. We owe it to Christ to help His people recognize the way their world view can be the breeding ground for ideas and behaviors that dishonor Christ. We are to help our members evaluate the attitude of their hearts in the light of the commandment of Christ to love God above all else. This means that they learn to recognize all idolatrous attachments and to avoid them.

by Charles Fleming