Random House defines idolatry in two ways. The first definition is the one that naturally comes to mind-“the religious worship of idols.” And this is where we tend to leave our notions of idolatry-completely in the religious realm among an unsofisticated people group. But the other definition is “excessive or blind adoration, reverence or devotion.” This is the definition that has me thinking about every person’s idolatry and the collective effect on a society. I hold a conviction that every person on the planet was created to worship-and therefore we will demonstrate our adoration, reverence or devotion towards someone or something. I think this is actually quite observable. Simply monitor over time where people put their time, energy and money. You will end up at their object of worship. And I believe that whatever we worship helps to shape our character and has a profound impact on all those with whom we interact. Therefore a society will be impacted by that which we give our reverence and devotion to. I received several responses to my Facebook question. There were some really thoughtful and challenging comments. Here is a glimpse at my thought process so far.
1. We will adore that which we worship. I would argue by definition that if we give our devotion and reverence towards a concept, an object, a person, or a pursuit-that rightfully it will turn into a passion. So if we align out time, talent and energy towards making money-we will eventually love money. If we give ourselves completely to success, we will feel jaded if we don’t achieve it-like an illusive lover.
2. We will defend that which we worship. Once we have tasted that which we have longed for it is almost impossible to go back. So if our object of worship feels threatened then we will defend it with all that we have. I have seen this with men who make sex their god. It is amazing to see the extent some will go in pursuit and defense of their idol. Sometimes we glamorize those who do this with a principle-like the pursuit of freedom. That seems like a worthy devotion. As Americans we even call it an inalienable right. Yet, as good as it is, there have been some pretty heinous things done in the name of freedom. True?
3. We become like that which we worship. Here is the harshest reality. Devotion over time brings conformity. It’s why we observe old married couples looking so much alike. The problem lies when our devotion is aimed at inanimate objects or concepts. Becoming like money or sex or even freedom is not pretty. The Bible in Psalm 135 says, “The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them!”
So how does this impact a society? I’m not totally sure. This is what I am still thinking about. But I believe that if there truly is a Creator and we are the created-then to worship other creations instead of the Creator will only lead to competition, selfish ambition, confusion, and injustice. Read the headlines any given day. Our worship has to go somewhere. If it goes towards a perfect Creator then we have the ability to express His love, justice, mercy and compassion-for His sake alone. If it goes towards something less-we can only express our limitations in broken ways.
I’m still in process . . . what are your thoughts?