Sunday, July 27, 2008

idolatry, the modern church, and secular society

An excellent sermon series from Kyle on idolatry and its staggering relevance for Christians and the world....

This morning, he preached the third of four messages on the topic. If I had to recommend one week, I'd pick week #1-- for laying out the broad theme. (The first six minutes of the video is a skit bracketed by two movie-trailer-like intros.) The rest of the series-- the gods of pleasure, success, and love-- will become/be available here for the next two weeks.)

Week 1 used Joshua 24 for the primary passage: Joshua's closing remarks to Israel and the famous injunction/exhortation punchline in verse 15:

"...if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

Key points:
-We are all worshipers. We all make a choice. (In a related point, all religions or religion-like belief systems have stories about creation, fall, redemption and eschatology-- whether Marxism or Environmentalism.) Here, Kyle quoted Peter Kreeft: "The opposite of theism is not atheism but idolatry."

-Idolatry can be directed toward good things or bad things, "but when good things become god things", then you've fallen into idolatry. We're often not seduced by poison as much as apple pie (or too much of it). We're not sacked by our enemies as much as God's gifts-- and worshiping the gifts rather than the Giver.

-Josh 24:15 indicates two primary sources for idolatry: tradition/family and culture.

-Biblically, idolatry is tied to adultery (for the believer, loving another god) and God's "jealousy"

-The term for "choose" implies an on-going choice or choosing rather than a one-time 0/1 choice.
-Idolatry is the elephant in the room of the church. (Dallas Willard would say it was non-discipleship, but these are flip sides of the same coin.)

Key questions for determining whether you're an idol worshiper:
1. What are you disappointed about? (What do you complain about?)

2. What do you sacrifice time and money for (calendar and checkbook)?

3. What do you worry about? What are you most afraid of? What would be terrible to lose?

4. Where do you go when you hurt? Where do you go for comfort?

5. What makes you mad?

6. What do you dream of? What gets you passionate?

7. What brings you the most joy?

8. Whose applause/approval do you long for?

Good questions for all of us to wrestle with...

Or try something more risky and useful: ask those who love you to answer the same questions about you!


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