I’ve spent several weeks exploring the idea of where we are right now in the CGGC, particularly as we anticipate looking forward into the future and discerning where the Lord wants us to go and what He wants us to do as His people. Some of what I share will be from a broader view – where the CGGC reflects what’s going on across the larger evangelical church in North America. At other times, the sense will be much more specific to the CGGC and where we find ourselves in this critical moment.
Have you ever worshipped an idol? Do you worry much about idol worship? Have you ever disposed of an idol? I know that these probably seem like odd questions, but I think they’re important questions. When it comes to idols, I think most of us think about stone statues in far off lands or totem poles with scantily clad people circled around by the light of a fire. I don’t think most of us consider idol worship to be a threat to our own faith.
Have you ever mixed in a little bit of another religion’s beliefs with your own beliefs and practices as a Christian? Have you ever mixed in a little practice from the Muslims or the Mormons or the Buddhists? Again, my hunch is that most of us don’t even consider this the slightest temptation to our own faith and followership of Jesus today.
When I think about where we are at in the church in North America, it strikes me how little we seemed concerned about these two issues. When you read through the Old Testament, you can’t help but observe that the major challenge always facing the people of God was the allure of idol worship. They were constantly drawn to worship other gods. They were consistently unfaithful to the One True God as they pursued other gods from other cultures or belief systems.
When you look at the New Testament, particularly the early church and the work of the apostles, it’s clear that there was an ever-present danger of mixing Christian faith with another belief system (often Judaism) and ending up with something other than Jesus. A lot of the New Testament deals with addressing the various temptations early followers of Jesus had to blend their faith in Christ with something else (Jewish customs, cultic temple worship, etc.).
I’ve been reflecting upon this a lot as I’ve read through the history of Israel through the Old Testament in recent weeks. We don’t seemed worried one bit about idols. We teach folks about a lot of temptations they ought to avoid: drinking, carousing, gambling and many other “ings” that rightfully should be avoided by God’s redeemed. But I’m hard-pressed to remember a time when I’ve witnessed a young believer being warned about the dangers of following other gods, worshiping idols, or mixing religious beliefs together.
Could it be that we’re blind to the very thing that’s preventing us from fully experiencing the blessings of God? Could it be that we’re ignorant of our own betrayal and unfaithfulness to the God who loves us with a faithful and steadfast love? Could it be that we don’t see our own idols? Could it be that we aren’t aware of how we’ve mixed our faith in Jesus with something else that is totally opposed to His word, work and way?
I think we’re foolish to think that we’ve moved beyond what was often the main stumbling block for so many who have come before us. Sometimes we look back on the people of God with a sense of “they were so stiff-necked or they were so prone to wander;” all the while missing our own propensity to do the same.
What are the idols that we must tear down? What are the false gods that have led us to stray from the One True God? Where are we blending our own Christian faith with the beliefs of other religions or faiths? Where are we prone to wander from the One who loves us so faithfully?
Why aren’t we asking these questions more regularly?
I’d love to see some interaction on this important question.
CGGC eNews—Vol. 13, No. 11