Various surveys tell us that Christianity is in decline in our nation. It seems that just about everywhere congregations are dwindling and church buildings are closing. The masses have lost their interest in the Bible and the gospel is an embarrassment to our government. When did you last hear a politician speak with boldness of his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour?
Yet despite all this people have not given up worship. They are merely directing their devotion elsewhere – to their idols. It may appear extraordinary but it is even possible to attend church regularly and yet be guilty of idolatry. Such things may come as a shock to some. Let us therefore explain carefully what we mean.
When men cease to believe in the true God they do not then believe in nothing; rather they they believe in anything. They bow down before the false gods of their own choice. Man has done this since the fall, with images “made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Rom.1:23). Men have “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (v.25).
In our modern age, when we are too sophisticated or have too much of a conscience to prostrate ourselves before idols of wood, stone or metal, we make idols more suited to ourselves. They turn out to be as many and as varied as we are. What are they?
Idols are not confined to those objects which men fashion with their hands and look upon with their eyes: we also create idols in our minds. We may idolise a fellow human being, a branch of learning or
entertainment, or even an emotion or sensation. Today’s idols include sportsmen and film stars, science and music, drink and drugs. Time, attention and money are being lavished on these things.
In fact an idol is anything which has an improper place in our hearts and lives, taking the position that God demands and deserves. It may even be something as lawful and good as our work or family. God says, “Thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exod.34:14).
In a way idolatry confirms Christian teaching about man. Our soul being made in the divine image we are restless and discontent without God. We find that we must worship something. Blinded by his sin man dwells in spiritual darkness, hiding from the knowledge of God which has been given to him and also perverting it. How we need the Scriptures to lead us to an understanding of God and His saving grace! Truly they are “a light that shineth in a dark place” (2Pet.1:19).
In conversion God ‘shines’ in our hearts to give “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2Cor.4:6). Jesus is truly “the image of the invisible God” (Col.1:15), for He is God in our flesh. We should bow the knee to Christ alone, worshipping Him and seeking salvation through His great mercy. Let us be wise and “flee from idolatry” (1Cor.10:14)!