Worship or idol worship

525 worship serviceFor 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: "Worldviews are the basic fabric of human existence, the lens through which the world is seen, the blueprint of how to stand in Above all, they are anchored in an identity and home feeling that enables people to be who they are, ignoring worldviews, either their own or that of another culture we study, becomes one 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 world view more and more to Christ, because when we were ready to take God seriously, we usually already had a fully developed worldview - one through osmosis (influence) and deliberate thought was coined. The formation of a world view is similar to the way a child learns his language. It is both a formal, deliberate activity of the child and the parents as well as a process with a very own life content. Much of this happens simply with certain values ​​and assumptions that feel right to us as they become the foundation upon which we (both consciously and subconsciously) evaluate what's going on in and around us. It is the unconscious reaction that often becomes the most difficult obstacle to our growth and our testimony as followers of Jesus.

Our relationship to human culture

Scripture warns us that to some extent all human cultures are not in harmony 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 that are hostile to God, calling it "the mother of all abominations on earth" (Rev. 17,5 NGÜ) and calling us to all godless values ​​and behaviors in the world to reject the surrounding culture (world). Notice what the apostle Paul wrote about it: "Stop living up to the standards of this world, learn to think in a new way so that you can be changed and judge whether something is God's will - whether it's good whether God enjoys it and whether it is perfect "(Rom 12,2 NGÜ).

Beware of those who want to capture you with an empty, deceptive philosophy, with intuitions of purely human origin that revolve around the principles that govern this world, not Christ (Col. 2,8 NGÜ).

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, obeying, and serving God. As the apostle Paul noted, the results are devastating: "For whatever they knew about God, they did not give him the honor they deserve and owe them their gratitude, they lost themselves in meaningless trains of thought, and in their hearts Those who have lacked all insight have become gloomy: instead of the glory of the incorruptible God, they set images ... Therefore, God has abandoned them to the desires of their hearts and exposed them to immorality, so that they mutilated their bodies "(Rom 1,21, 23, 24 NIV). Paul shows that a lack of willingness to accept God as the true God leads to immorality, corruption of the mind 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 if we persist we must tackle idolatry (the problem behind the problem) to produce good fruits (make wise choices and behave morally). Paul remains consistent throughout his ministry in this regard (see, for example, 1 Kor 10,14, where Paul admonishes Christians to flee from 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!

It should be noted, however, that our vocation as church leaders is not to constantly point people to what exactly idol worship is in their behavior and thinking. It is their responsibility to find out for themselves. Instead, we are called "helpers of their joy" to help them recognize the attitudes and behaviors that are symptomatic of idolatrous attachments. We need to alert them to the dangers of idol worship and give them biblical criteria so that they can check the assumptions and values ​​that make up their world view to see if they are in line with the Christian faith they profess.

Paul gave this kind of instruction in his letter to the church in Colossae. He wrote about the connection between idolatry and greed (Kol 3,5 NGÜ). If we want to possess something so much that we desire it, it has conquered our hearts - it has become an idol that we emulate, thereby suppressing what God is entitled to. In our time of rampant materialism and consumption, we need all the help to fight the greed that leads to idolatry. The whole world of advertising is designed to implant in us a dissatisfaction with life until we have bought the product or indulge in the advertised lifestyle. It's as if someone has decided to create a culture that undermines what Paul Timothy said:

"But piety is a great asset to those who can be satisfied, because we have not brought anything into the world, so we will not bring anything out, but if we have food and clothes, let us be content with them They want to become rich, they fall into temptation and entanglement, and into many foolish and harmful desires, which make people sink into ruin and damnation, for greed for money is a root of all evil, after which some have lusted and they have strayed from faith and make themselves a lot of pain "(1, Tim 6,6-10 LUT).

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 to set guidelines in their lives to know when to take a good cause and turn them into an idol - something they relate to in terms of peace, joy, leave personal importance and safety. These are things that only God can really offer. 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 doing this.

Idolatry in the age of knowledge

We live in what historians call the Age of Knowledge (unlike the Industrial Age in the past). In our time idol worship is less about the worship of physical objects than about the worship of ideas and knowledge. The forms of knowledge that most aggressively seek to win our hearts are ideologies-economic models, psychological theories, political philosophies, etc. As church leaders, we leave God's people vulnerable if we do not help them develop the capacity to self-assert themselves 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 that we do not want God to touch, the things that are "taboo". As church leaders, we ask God to reorient our own world view so that what we say and do bears 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