Friday, October 31, 2008

American Idol

So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm.

-- Ephesians 6:13

The old saying goes that on the battlefield, you won’t find an atheist in any foxhole.

There’s probably a grain of truth in that observation. And maybe a whole lot more. After all, is there really such a thing as a full-fledged atheist – someone who doesn’t worship any god? We all worship something; at least in one way or another. God has even hard-coded this intense longing into our very DNA.

Christ-followers worship the true God revealed and proven through the Bible. Other religions around the world promote false gods, ancestor worship, and even the reverence of living things or nature (worshipping the creation rather than the Creator). And let’s not forget today’s popular false teachings such as New Age, Scientology and Kabbalah. It’s a very long list.

Even those who claim to be strict atheists are really active worshippers. True, they may not be regular churchgoers and proclaim Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. But they – like everyone – bow down to favorite idols. Some worship money, luxury and pleasure, and others intellect and higher learning. Still others kneel at the altar of more negative gods such as alcohol, drugs and illicit relationships.

So no – there are no atheists to be found on the battlefield. But there’s a different type of battle that rages each day within everyone: the God of the Bible struggling against the world’s gods and idols. Our hearts and souls are the prize of war.

Perhaps we don’t literally kneel and worship before some golden idol. But we all must recognize that we secretly (and maybe not-so-secretly) cherish our own personal gods. Think about the things you worry about or sacrifice your time and money for. What are the issues that make you angry? What brings you the most joy? And here’s a revealing question: Whose attention and applause do you most crave?

If the answer to each question doesn’t involve God, then you’re likely worshipping an idol. And idols can be difficult to recognize through the smoke and confusion of spiritual warfare because they’re experts at camouflage. Even apparently good things can evolve into “god things.” It’s then that they’re unmasked as personal idols.

It’s particularly important for Christ-followers to remember that the real God – the God of the Bible revealed in person through Jesus Christ – doesn’t want to share His glory with any false god or cheap idol. We therefore need to reflect on the God – and gods – in our lives. And then we must choose the only One to serve and live for.

Let’s be thankful that our God guards a jealous love for each one of us. In fact, He loves us so much that He let His own Son suffer the death penalty in our place so we could be His children and heirs. And as children of the King, an incredible inheritance awaits each if we’re willing to accept His gifts of forgiveness, love and grace.

This is what love is really about. And it’s a love that refuses to share.

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