Idol Worship for the Modern Man

Imagine agreeing to do some custodial work at your church on weeknights to earn some extra money. You are cleaning up the pastor's study one night and as you dust the wall of bookshelves, you stop to straighten a crooked book. To your surprise, adjusting the book causes the entire bookcase to revolve! When the bookcase completes its turn, you are shocked by what you see. Standing before you in all of its glory is a gleaming golden calf, five feet tall with a string of shimmering rubies hanging around its neck.

The implications are staggering. Surely idol worship is not still going on in this day and age! Yet to your horror, during the next few weeks you discover that the entire church staff and many others within your congregation are regularly bowing down to the calf.

The story above is admittedly bizarre, and few people in our society fashion golden calves. Idol worship, however, is still alive and well. An idol can be defined as anything that steals our devotion away from the true and living God.

Modern man bows down to a different sort of idol, an idol of flesh and blood. He lives for man's approval rather than God's approval, sacrificing time, energy, and money in perpetual attempts to gain man's praise and to avoid man's scorn.

Insidiously, this "fear of man" has gripped the people in our culture. Because our socialization process teaches us the fear of man rather than the fear of God, the fear of man is woven into the very fabric of our existence. We are gripped by the "fear of man" not only when we are afraid that man will hurt, humiliate, ridicule or reject us, but also when we yearn to look good, to impress, to seek glory from people.

What calls us into the worship of this idol? Simply this thought: "What do people think of me?" It doesn't matter whether we conclude that people have bad thoughts about us or good thoughts, whether the question is answered negatively or positively.

The fear of man bringeth a snare. (Prov. 29:25)

The bondage doesn't come from answering the question the wrong way; the bondage comes from entertaining the question at all. The question itself draws us into the wrong realm: the realm of the fear of man. If we concern ourselves with man's opinion of us rather than with God's opinion, the fear of man has ensnared us.

...who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the Lord, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth.

--Isaiah 51:12b-13

Jamie Lash                     

(assisted by Brent Wallace)






 Jamie Lash    LifeGivingWords
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