The young preacher accepted the preaching position in a small country church in rural Kentucky. Excited and on fire with passion for truth, his first Sunday sermon spoke against the dangers and evils of gambling and horse races. It was a masterful polemic. The church leaders pulled him aside and complemented his study and delivery, but asked him to be careful preaching about gambling since many of their members worked at the track or at the stables of the horse owners.
The next Sunday he backed off of gambling and preached against the sin of drunkenness and the evil of alcohol. His delivery was passionate and left no one doubting what he was teaching. Again the leaders pulled him aside and complemented his study and delivery, but asked him to be careful preaching about alcohol since some of the members worked in the breweries making Kentucky bourbon.
The third Sunday he preached on the sin of Tobacco. Of course the scene unfolded in the same way because some members owned land or were sharecroppers raising tobacco.
The young preacher was feeling frustrated and asked, “What do you suggest I preach on, then?”
One of the leaders thought and then spoke, “Idolatry. I haven’t seen an idol or and idolater around here for years.”
Habakkuk challenges the idols of the Chaldeans,
“What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols! Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it.” (Habakkuk 2:18-19)
Idols are the creation of men. What can they offer their creators? What value is an idol that cannot impart wisdom or truth? What can a carved rock or chunk of wood, or a forged piece of metal teach? All they do is reflect the craftsmanship of the artist.
We have our idols. We have our false gods. We have unreliable guides that detract us from the true God. We have objects, people, and activities that we often use in place of God. We rely on these idols when we need to turn to God.
- Stress is piling up on my, but we feel better when we have ice cream at night.
- We need something to take the edge off at the end of the day, so we open a cold brew or pour a glass of wine.
- We want to be pleased, so we look for pleasure in sexual immorality.
- We are bored so we turn on the TV, watch a movie, or play a video game to fill that void.
- We want to be successful.
- We want to have a large bank roll.
- We desire to be known as a great husband, wife, or parent.
When we find fulfillment or look to find fulfillment in food, alcohol, sex, pleasure in general, or in empty entertainment we are looking somewhere other than God to fill our lives. When we make success in business, financial security, or even family our main goal, we are placing those things above God.
We do have idols and idolaters around hereThere is even one sitting in my chair.
Father, please forgive me when my life’s focus is on anything but you. Help me to know that You alone are my life, my all-in-all, my every need, and the fulfiller of all that I should desire.
Remember, “The Lord is in His holy temple; Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” (Hab 2:20)