How many gods do you serve?
When we think of the ancient Romans, we think they served a lot of different false gods.
Jonah 2:8 – Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.
You have Jupiter, the master god. Juno, the goddess of women. Mars, the god of war. Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Minerva, goddess of wisdom and learning. Bacchus, god of partying. Mercury, god of travelling. Vesta, goddess of the home.
And then you have the Roman emperor. The “imperial cult” that served the emperor viewed his as “divus,” or divine. While this wasn’t the case immediately, and most were not worshiped until after their death, the cult of personality that Roman emperors created led the general public to see them as godlike and even divine. This was especially true with the first living self-professed deity emperor Domitian.
By today’s standards that guy had issues. Even in Domitian’s time the people questioned his actions.
But, Fred, how does this relate to 21st century America?
While we don’t necessarily have names or personifications for our “little-g” gods, we do still worship many of the same things the ancient Romans worshiped.
I know many people who worship their homes. Even I find myself wanting to make my home a better and better place to live and to have people come to that I start to question if I am truly worshiping it.
And I don’t know about you, but I love to travel! I know a lot of people who spend their lives planning the next trip or outing and do it much more than they worship Christ. Could that be a god?
What about partying? Back when I was in college I loved a good party. Getting drunk was high on my list of things to do and enjoying time with friends would always take precedence. Studying Scripture? Nah, I have a party to get to.
What about education? When I first became a Christian I wanted to learn everything I could about my faith. Nothing wrong with that. But it is very easy for Christians to spend their lives only reading Scripture and commentary instead of putting into practice. If Christianity becomes only a learning exercise to you, then perhaps you worship wisdom and not the God of the universe.
Then there is sex. Our culture is so obsessed with sex that you can’t even watch a kid’s movie without being bombarded with it. It might be small, like a racy joke that only the adults will understand, but it is there. And then don’t even get on the adult movies and TV shows. They are filled with sex and sexual references.
Then there is Facebook or Twitter or our cars or even our families. Anything can easily become a god.
We are modern Romans.
Colossians 3:5 – Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
None of what I listed above is bad. But how we deal with it is.
(I am speaking directly to Christians here, non-Christians need not read any further)
If you (I) wake up every morning with a focus on your (my) Facebook or social media and not on your (my) time with God, then you (I) have a screwed up way of thinking. You (I) have an idol.
If sex or alcohol or drugs is the leading thought in your mind, then you have placed it above our Creator. You have an idol.
We idolize so many other things simply because we can see them and they bring us temporary pleasure. We base our success on happiness, not joy.
So, Christian, how can we break down the idols?
- Make a list. This list is all the things that you don’t know how to live without. Put the list in order of priority
Pretty big list, eh?
If you are like me, you put God in the number 1 spot.
That sounds great. Exodus 20:3 says,
Exodus 20:3 – You shall have no other gods before me.
When we think of the word “before,” we think in order of importance. So putting God at number 1 means we’re good, right?
But before, in this case, doesn’t mean in order of importance but it means “in my presence.” He means to not have any other gods BESIDES God.
But the problem is this, God doesn’t want to be your top god, he wants to be your only God.
Idolatry is making a good thing the ultimate thing. If something that is created is turned into something that makes life worth living then it has become an idol.
- Identify your idols
- You need to convince yourself that the idol needs to go
This can be hard if the idol is your family. God would not want us to leave our families just because we have started idolizing them. But removing the idol of family might mean that we need to prioritize our family differently in our lives.
- Work on the relationship with God
This is “big-G” God. God the Father. If we work on and solidify our relationship with Him then the rest of our priorities will fall into place.
- Set boundaries
- Renew your mind
This might mean you need to constantly convince yourself to prioritize your life differently. A muscle doesn’t get strong simply by thinking about working out. It gets strong by working out.
- Have a friend hold you accountable
The sin of idolatry can be broken. It isn’t easy. But it is possible, through Christ.
1 John 5:21 – Little children, keep yourselves from idols.