By Craig Funston
We need to follow up from my recent discussion on what it means to not have idols in our lives. My simple point then was that we may be far more guilty of idol worship than we care to admit.
(By the way, this week’s and last’s heading is not a typo, so do not adjust your “dial”. It is an intentional play on words. You may stop snickering now, people, and get down to some serious reading…)
So what (or who) do you worship? What motivates and consumes you these days? Is the object of your worship controlling you, your time, and your thoughts? Be careful: whatever you worship will control you.
And remember, this is not merely a religious experience. It’s where is the focus of our affection and passion lies.
Worship, as we saw last week, is that act or obsession with someone or something outside of ourselves. We’re all creatures of worship, but too often that affection is directed to many other things instead of the primary “thing” (don’t want to sound irreverent, but you get my drift).
They say you are what you worship. (No, Maurice, if you worship money you don’t become a loonie, though in your case…). What that means is, if you worship the human body, your mindset becomes very physical and material; if you worship the almighty dollar, your thinking becomes very mercantile, and everything is evaluated in terms of increasing net worth and financial gain.
The same goes for worshipping God: The more you worship Him, the more you become like Him. And that, of course, would make for a better society. (To my Christian readers: I am not advocating a works-based lifestyle. Every significant change must still come in through a new birth).
The second commandment simply says that God doesn’t want us—all of us, by the way—to have idols. He doesn’t want anything to come in the place of God.
And it can be something material (eg., wood, metal, stone, etc.) or immaterial (eg., greed, money, sex, knowledge, success, etc.). And that means that these things that take up our time and energy may be fine in themselves, just so long as they don’t become the primary focus in our life.
How would no idol worship affect our society? Let me count the ways: 1. It would transform our homes. 2. It would transform our neighbourhoods; 3. It would transform our workplaces; and 4. it would transform our governments (at every level).
Homes? Can you possibly imagine what type of homes we would all have if each member has a strong allegiance and affection towards God? Well, it would take a lot of imagination, to be sure, as we certainly don’t see much of that these days—and that includes me and mine.
What would putting God first before anything else practically look like?
Again, honouring God has some personal, daily ramifications in the home: improved relationships, better money management, genuine thoughtfulness for other family members, not wasting time on excessive drinking and carousing, and so on. That would make for great family life!
Neighbourhoods? For starters, neighbourhoods are made up of the homes I just referred to, so what was going right in one home would be multiplied in many others. If everything was based on having a heart fully engaged in loving God, think of the squabbles, petty crime, noise level, and a host of other factors that would disappear. Neighbourhoods would be safe and fun again.
Workplaces? A God-first thinking that permeated every corner of the work environment would radicalize every sector in this nation. No more politics, no more cue-jumping, no more abuses—I can’t imagine what it would be like.
There would be better morale, increased productivity, and greater stability. Obviously, that would good.
Government? The governments are our duly elected officials; their sense of duty and care towards its citizens must be paramount, but seldom is. Its two spheres include the parliament or chambers, and the marketplace of its citizenry. Can you envision transformed health, education, and agriculture portfolios, in which the Ten Commandments were observed?
Again, can you possibly imagine being led by a cluster of individuals who had no hidden agenda, no politics (in the true sense), no bullying tactics—just because they themselves now answer to a higher authority?
A society transformed by not stooping to idols, but rather, rising to God, would be a great society.