Not my normal Bible Study per se, however a blog that I felt very much needed to be shared.
All throughout the Holy Scriptures, we find warnings about accepting things as idols. And it’s really disconcerting to consider how this very warning has been pushed aside all throughout the ages, even unto our generation. The multitudes of people and things to which we look up to, seeking to accept and be accepted by so many of them. I think of the power that social media and all technology has over people, the desire to be accepted and acknowledged by those who happen to share our addictions with us. The power that we have given to government and mass media to control our very thoughts and actions. The advances in science that we have allowed to disprove our very faith.
The reading of Holy Scripture has warned us that our faith will not be accepted by the world at large, and in part that is because the world itself is under the rule of it’s prince, the evil one. Thus, this world has taught us that the Holy Scripture is nothing more than a rule book, and an outdated one at that. It has taught us that the words in the Scripture were a necessity at the time (sometimes, otherwise they completely dismiss it), but that we need to “get with the times,” that the rules and positions are outdated. And, while this is strictly the words of a man who has studied the Scripture, I feel as though this is a warning to all of us, myself included, against this advent of the age to turn away from anything that they don’t understand. And, as often happens, the world turns against itself when it is trying to offer these things. I consider the political views of those on either side of the political fence and think of the hatred that each side has been responsible for. The left states that we should trust the science, but only when it is advantageous for them to proclaim that, on the one hand stating that the science has deemed certain things to be stronger than our natural body’s capability, while at the same time denying the science that states that hormonally males and females are not equal and that a child in utero is not it’s own living being, two things which science itself contradict. The right, on the other hand, screams that we should go to war with everyone. It’s very hard to proclaim that you are pro-life and then threaten aggressors with a nuclear war. It’s very hard to use Jesus’ teachings as a backdrop while ignoring the poor and hungry.
And yet, this governmental system has become one of our idols. We look up to whichever side we choose to see how we should be, what our lives should look like. We find inspirational speakers who help us to see things that way that someone we idolize sees them, rather than looking to the Scriptures themselves. And I’m not merely talking about science or politics when I say this, neither am I speaking about strictly atheists. We have had over 400 years of people in the Church doing the same thing. They give leverage to that which they see in the news, and eventually the broadcaster becomes their priest, the channel becomes their Church, and the sponsors become their God. And it’s a sad affair when we allow this to happen. We read in the many epistles of St Paul about the dangers of letting any worldly influence into the Church. We read about churches allowing infidelity, homosexuality, theft, murder; and yet when wee look at those epistles, they were normally a warning to each of us about doing that. St Paul always praised what the believers were doing right, but ultimately, each of his epistles tended moreso to be a warning about what they were doing wrong. Warnings about allowing the traditions of man to overcome the traditions that the apostles had taught. And it was usually a very stern warning when he would write these things.
Our government, our media, even ourselves, can never be allowed to become our gods. And yet, that is exactly what we do. Though we begin with good intentions, eventually this sense of self always overcomes. Consider the tradition of fasting in the Church. Though we’re taught about it at length, we constantly seek to explain it away, to find “loopholes” in the fasting rules, to declare them to be “works” incapable of leading to salvation. And while this is true, following the fasting rules alone are not sufficient unto salvation, however it does keep us humble. It reminds us that we are not the ones in control, but rather Christ Himself. See, what we don’t realize is that when we argue against these traditions, what we are doing is saying that we value our comfort and desire more than we could ever desire Christ. When we write off sinful behavior because it’s hard, we are are saying that we are god. It’s a dangerous thing to place ourselves, fallible as we are, above the commands of God. When God warns us of the outcome of something, the world, which rejects God, begins to teach it as normal, as healthy. And there is a strong danger in that, because the world, thanks in part to media, begins to indoctrinate us into that very belief from the beginning. How often do we say or not say something on social media because we’re afraid of the response to it? Via social media, we have the ability to reach millions of people, and we’ve been commanded to reach all nations, and yet, how often do we use it to try to reach out to people about the techings of Christ? How often do we prioritize Christ over those who would censor His word? How often are we silent on the things which matter for fear of offending someone?
See, when we’re afraid of speaking about Christ because it may offend others, then we have made them our idols instead. When we praise someone for the sins that they have fallen victim to, we have completely forsaken not only the commands of Christ as far as the sin itself, but we’ve also forsaken the command to love our neighbor. To love someone often means saying things that they don’t really want to hear, but rather need to hear. To accept and praise them in their sin is to not show love to them. It is to be the parent who lets their child play in the middle of the street. It is to let the child choose what they’re having for dinner every night, even when we know that those choices will not be that which is healthy for them. Every eight year old I’ve ever met would choose pizza or peanut butter and jelly for dinner over what will provide them the nutrients that they would need. And every eight year old will complain about the healthy meal that you are cooking. Does this mean that you don’t love them? Of course not, it means rather that you love them enough that you don’t want to see them do that to themselves. And yet, with sinful activity, we tend to take the opposite position. We allow the sinner to be the god, never even warning them. Or, on a personal level, we allow ourselves to be God. Usually under the justification that “if God loves me, then why would He give me this feeling, these urges?” not understanding that that feeling and those urges are the enemy trying to tempt us to go against what we know God wants and expects from us. When we give in, it’s not that God has abandoned us, it’s that we’ve abandoned God. We’ve chosen another god over Him. We’ve allowed something in our life to become our god instead of the one true God. The atheist would say “God doesn’t exist, these are manmade rules,” and the Christian would dispute that, and then effectively do the same thing, justifying it by saying “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.” And while it is true that we are forgiven, we are forgiven through repentance. We are forgiven through seeking forgiveness and turning our lives around. Think about it on a personal level. If your friend steals something from you, you would forgive them. If they continued to steal from you, that forgiveness would wane. Eventually, you would come to the realization that the apologies weren’t true because the friend was making no effort to change anything. And yet, we misinterpret Scripture to expect God to forgive us for everything, even when we make no effort to change anything. We create God in our own image and feel as though we can do nothing wrong. We collect money for the poor, but make sure that their is a photo of the giving so we can show everyone; or at least brag about it so everyone knows how “good” we are. We tend to place ourselves above God our entire lives and then when something bad happens, we blame Him for it, when that bad thing is normally the result of going against what God has told us. A husband cheats on his wife and gets caught. It’s not God’s fault that he got caught, it’s his fault for cheating. A man gets arrested for fighting in public and blames God for being arrested, but it’s his fault instead that he was fighting. It’s amazing to me how religious people become right after they’ve gotten caught doing something that God has warned us not to do. But, that’s what happens when we allow ourselves to become our idol, in the biblical sense. When we spend our lives chasing after our fleshly desires, we therefore make ourselves our gods, and place ourselves above Him.
Government becomes our idol when we place their demands above the faith. When we allow government to mandate what is taught in our churches, or how it is taught, then we have bowed down again to the enemy. I will not give in to the argument of “separation of Church and state” because that had literally nothing to do with government mandates as far as teaching goes. It was rather an assumed position since the American government was formed during the time of the Church of England, where the Church had overstepped it’s boundaries as well and had become involved as an organization in politics. Does the Church have the right to run a worldly country? No. To the contrary, it was the government during Biblical times which was responsible for the crucifixion. The separation of Church and state declared that the government would never declare one national Church for all of it’s inhabitants. However, the statement has been turned 180 degrees now. The nation which was formed as “one nation under God” has since become “one nation against God.” I’ve heard from many that “freedom of religion” has become “freedom from religion,” and while I’ll not argue the politics, I understand where they are coming from. So many who have chosen self as their idol have since gone on to try to instill mandates against Christian Law. And this is an area where we must be very careful, because while we are not the controlling legal system in America, and we must never become that, we also must always maintain obedience to our faith in spite of it. If Christian Law becomes civil law, we have a situation where people begin being taught that everyone will inherit the Kingdom, which is very far from what the Scripture tells us. Simultaneously, however, if we allow civil law to impede on our faith, then we place the government as our idol. And, while we can never allow this to happen, we must be very careful that we don’t attempt to legislate Christian morals either. Rather, what we must do is make sure that the civil laws never impede our ability to live out the Christian Law. And, the world doesn’t want to hear that. It will resist us, it will call us everything from a “flat-earther” to a “bigot” to a “sexist,” and not even because we’re trying to force our Law on them, which we’re not, but because we want the right to live in accordance with it ourselves.
And that’s where the last topic steps in, the media. Christians, true believing, obedient Christians, have been labelled in the media with all of those same titles, outdated, sexist, bigoted, homophobic, hateful. All because we seek to obey the Law of God. We don’t even have to speak out against sinful behavior, simply because we can’t endorse it, we will be hated. And this again is the enemy. If he can’t entice us with temptation to sin, then he will instead try to intimidate us into silence, knowing that if we can but plant the seed of the Word of God in someone, it may grow and he may lose another soul to Christ. He knows that he can easily become an idol to multitudes of people, simply by telling them what they want to hear, and oftentimes the media is the best outlet to do that. He uses the media to entice us with so many of our fleshly desires, and if that fails, then he uses the media to try to silence us. Or to turn us against one another, knowing that a kingdom divided against itself will fall. I think of even those in the Church who have turned away from one another because of their opinions based on their idolization of the media. And yet, this only works for those who idolize the media. Those who look to news outlets as their sole source of what’s happening in the world. And while there are many that he can’t reach that way, there are some who are weak who will give in to whatever the newscasters say. There are those who idolize the media in a sense that they believe whatever the media says, even when it contradicts their own knowledge or studies or even faith. At that point, the media becomes our god, and that is a very dangerous place to be. Remember, the media, like the government, always has an agenda, and it’s never the salvation of our souls.
These are the primary idols who have entered our lives in this generation, and we must be mindful of their presence there. I am not saying that we must revolt, or completely remove ourselves from these things, however, we must be mindful of how much we are allowing them to influence our thoughts and feelings. We must be mindful of how much control we are allowing any of them to have over our spiritual lives. If we are true Christians, we must love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and might; never allowing any idol to overcome that love. Christ is very adamant about how we must live our lives, and we must strive to achieve that level, regardless of what the world would have us do. And that is a very hard level to attain, but it is possible, through thorough study of the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church and through a life lived through Christ, by the grace of the Holy Spirit. The first step to that, however, is identifying those idols that we’ve placed before Him.
Christ is in our midst.