The Obedience of Idolatry

If the villain in a book or movie wants to manipulate the hero, what do they do? Threaten someone the hero loves. To manipulate Spider-man, they threaten MJ. To manipulate Batman, they threaten Robin.

This works because the things dearest to our hearts control us. Jesus illustrates this in the parable of the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46). Because the merchant treasured the pearl so much, he sold all his other possessions to be able to purchase it.

And so the final manifestation of idolatry is obedience. We delight in some of our idols, and in some of them we trust. Either way, those idols make demands of us—requiring us to obey them and to make sacrifices to them in exchange for the promises they make to us.

“Because we look to them for our significance (love) and security (trust) we have to have them, and therefore we are driven to serve and, essentially, obey them.”
~ Timothy Keller

In ancient times obedience and sacrifices were obvious and physical. These days, Instead of bringing a bleating lamb to the temple, we sacrifice intangible things like time and attention. In a very real sense, we offer ourselves on the altar any time we become obsessed—whether it is with the newest streaming series, our grades in school, or our investment portfolio.

If money is your god, what will you do to get more money? What will you do to keep the money you have? Many people have sacrificed their integrity through subtle lies or cheating to win a big contract or reduce their income taxes.

If social acceptance is your god, what will you do to gain approval? Will you change your appearance? Adjust your vocabulary? Will you shun the outsiders? Laugh at crude or demeaning jokes?

As with our delight and our trust, obedience is not optional. We were created by God to serve and obey him in all things, with every area of our lives. Someone or something is going to be your master (Matthew 6:24). It is unavoidable—every human being has a master. Even if you thought, "No one is my master," that very thought shows you have put yourself in God's place, assuming the role of master over your own life. That role does not belong to you or anything else in creation. God alone should be master.

But idolatry is not just a warning. It is an opportunity.
   I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your
   bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your
   spiritual worship.
    ~ Romans 12:1

Because of who God is and what God has done, he is worthy! Whatever he asks of us, whatever he calls us to do, he is worthy. Let us surrender our lives to him, gladly obeying him.

Ben Whiting




no categories