Is Idolatry still a thing?
One of the common themes you encounter as you read scripture are warnings against idolatry. For example, in 1 Corinthians 5:10, Paul warns us not to have anything to do with those “who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters.”
I read bible verses like that and think – sure – I get the appeal of greed (possessing things) or immorality (desiring fleshly pleasures). But is idolatry still a thing?
NT Wright, a leading biblical scholar, argues that idolatry, more particularly than just ‘sin’, is the great cancer of the human soul. We can view ‘sin’ as a ‘condition’ – as a disease that we have caught, from Adam. In some sense this allows us to externalise and downplay sin.
Whereas idolatry focuses on the inclination of our (both individual and corporate) heart. When we worship something, we allow it to hold a status that only belongs to God. To idolise creation, rather than the creator, is to turn God’s order upside down. Worshipping things only leads to enslavement. Worshipping God brings freedom and allows humans as God’s children and image bearers to flourish.
If you are still reading, then all of the above can sound true, but theoretical. It’s all a bit intellectual, abstract, without any use. Esoteric.
If so, let me give you another angle on idolatry. Idols are something we not only worship but also something we trust in. Ancient cultures trusted in the gods to bring rain, or fertility, or healing. It was often a matter of life and death, and people felt they had nowhere else to turn.
When the chips are down, and life is a struggle, in what or whom do you trust? Do you trust in your wealth? Your connections? Your determination? Your shrewdness? Your intelligence? If the answer is yes – it’s possible these things are your idol!
Trust God. He is loving and good. Trust Jesus. Follow his example of how to live as a human being who bears God’s image.
Rev David Rietveld
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