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Category: Authority

Modern Idol Worship

Those of us that grew up in the church, especially the evangelical Church, will often hear a common sermon. Preached frequently from the pulpit is the concept of idol worship and how that translates into the modern skeptical world. Almost no one here in the west will bow down to a molech or ba’al statue now, but we form our own idols in the things we obsess over and spend too much time with. At least, that is the commonly held thought. Sports, video games, TV, these things can all become idols in our lives, or can they?
Concepts like these existed in Ancient Israel, and even likely back to the beginning of time. Men would always spend too much time at work, think too much on sports, or the equivalent. Elisha, I am quite sure, spoke too often of the latest rock rolling game. Yet in Scripture, when God warns of idol worship, He is angry at the actual bowing and worship of another god, not sports, or obsessive lawn care.
So then, if modern-day idol worship isn’t obsession with worldly things, what is it? As we said earlier, we don’t bring our firstborn to molech any more, or worship images of Ba’al. What than is idol worship? Well, the obvious first answer is ACTUAL worship of false gods. This does exist, if not as commonly in the West, but takes shape in Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism. These are actual idol worship, easily identified. What about the West then and its apparent absence of those types of eastern mysticism? Well, it may not be as obvious, but I would argue it is just as pervasive in the western church, more increasingly, we are seeing it in the form of steps taken to reject His revealed Word when it discomforts us or when another “truth” suits us better.
We discover a truth about God and we reject it. How many times have you heard someone say “I couldn’t worship a God like that” That person has ceased to pursue truth and is now pursuing comfort. We will exchange the truth for a lie because it suits us better. We then set this god up in our image (a reversal of creation in the Garden) and we bow to it. We pray to it. We go to church on Sunday and we sing praise and worship songs to it. We have actually created a real idol and just called it by the same name. This is what modern idol worship is, and it is sadly pervasive.

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Hierarchy of Respect

As modern/postmodern beings, we don’t seem to like the concept of an Authority Figure. Especially,  in the area of parenting. God forbid that we should ever seem to be authoritarian parents who might be seen as not giving our children the respect we think they deserve. Oftentimes, there is even equality in status between a parent and child, if not proclaimed, at least in practice. The opposite extreme can end up, of course, being just as destructive. A totalitarian home where dictator parents rule with an iron fist will only breed rebellion and suppress learning.

So as we see that extremes beget mistakes, we begin to look at the healthy balance of the hierarchy of respect. We understand that being alive we garner a base level of respect, in the sense that you do not snuff out life where it is not needed. You have an injured bird, you don’t, or shouldn’t spend an afternoon burning ants with a spy glass. We respect life even at its most base form, or at least we know we should. The levels of respect are also cumulative. You would show that same level of respect to a human and likely more. Every person deserves a certain amount of respect and for the most part we would agree on this, at least in theory. Even if I do not know someone personally, I should not shoulder them aside, spit in their eye, or run them over at the cross walk in order to save a few moments of my time. This is because they are human and alive and deserve more respect than that.

This concept holds and continues as the relationship gets closer to the originator of the respect. If the subject in question is known personally to you then you would afford them even more respect. Not only would you NOT run them over at a cross walk, but you would go so far as to smile at them and wave, imparting some good will to them as you pass. You might even find yourself giving of your time or emotions to them, because as you have a certain closer relation to them, you will also afford them , in greater degree, a portion of your respect.

Then you take this idea further, and you examine what further respect you would then hold for relations, close friends, closer family members or even children. We then begin to realize that yes, no matter how permissive or authoritarian we are in parenting, we still will afford our children respect, and we must, lest we treat them worse than strangers, than animals. But this realization goes further than the fact that we must respect our children. It paves the way for hierarchical respect which allows that while I, of course, must respect my child, that respect is , by definition, going to be different  from the respect I have for a sibling, spouse, or even an elder or parent. Defining exactly what that difference is will be the sanctification challenge in ever parent’s life going forward.

Stephen Mattson

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