Friday, August 16, 2013

On what have you placed the highest value?

Each Thursday night I gather with a group of fellow believers for food, fellowship and the study of God’s word. Last night during our study time, we discussed God’s message to the church at Pergamum (Rev. 2:12-17).

Last night, as we settled into our study time the following question was raised:

Do you think the church reflects culture or does the culture reflects the church.

The consensus of the group was unanimous…the church reflects the surrounding culture.

The same was true in Pergamum; the church as a whole had become lenient to the surrounding culture of idol worship. While there were believers who remained faithful to Christ no matter what was going on around them, some tolerated those who led people away from God.

Idol worship. I know what you may be thinking, “we don’t worship idols today so how does this apply to the church in present day society?”

When God gave the 10 Commandments to Moses the first one He gave was “You shall not have any gods (idols) before me.” (Exodus 20:3/NIV) In fact, he emphasized it more than the other 9 by giving a consequence for disobedience and a blessing for obedience. “You must not worship or serve any idol, because I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God. If you hate me, I will punish your children, and even your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But I show kindness to thousands who love me and obey my commands.”

You might think “Ok that’s easy I don’t have a golden calf or a little wooden idol laying around anywhere so I’m good on that one.” Think again. A “god” (idol) is anything in your life on which you place the highest value. For example: Instead of giving God the first part of your day so you can be in His presence, you sleep until the last possible minute, watch the morning news, go to the gym, do a little light cleaning from the night before, or read the paper with your morning cup of coffee. Are any of those things bad? No, but you have just placed a higher value on your morning “routine” than spending a few minutes alone with God.

Ok, I realize the questions that must be popping up in your minds: I don’t read the paper, drink coffee, sleep in, or watch TV in the morning. How is this relevant? Actually the list is endless. But let’s look at this from a different angle. What about your career, your service to the church, your friends, your family, your children, a hobby? Again, I’m not saying these things are bad; what I am trying to convey is, if we let them take our focus off God we have just made them an idol.

Anything we concentrate on too much for personal identity, meaning, and security becomes a god. YIKES! “But I didn’t intend to make them a god!” Yeah, I hear ya. But the amount of time we devote to them can “elevate” any of the things listed in the previous paragraph to gods when we allow them to control our thoughts and/or energies.

Take a look at our nation… we have become lenient to the current culture. We are “accepting” (or becoming tolerant of) what God has said is unacceptable. God was clear in His command “You must not have any gods before me (NCV).” We must not. This doesn’t sound like a suggestion to me. According to the scripture in Exodus, if we don’t repent and turn from the idols in our lives, God will punish our children, their children, and their children’s children.

Are the idols in our lives really worth God’s consequences? I think for me, I’d rather have the blessings.

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