Identity, Ideology, Or Idolatry

In America today, as in many parts of the world, people are walking away from God.  There is a movement that teaches we don’t need a belief in God any longer because we are self-sufficient and can handle life without such a superstitious belief system.  Of course many of these people still push belief in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny because of the marketing value, but I digress!  When a culture walks away from God it creates a vacuum in belief systems.  Contrary to the elitist progressive thinking so prevalent today they are not the ones to have discovered ideology as a tool to replace God.  Such evolution of thought is an age-old problem.  In the Mosaic Law God addresses this problem.

‘You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God.  ‘You shall keep My sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am the LORD.  ‘If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit.  ‘Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land.  ‘I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land.  ‘But you will chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword; five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword.  ‘So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you.  ‘You will eat the old supply and clear out the old because of the new.  ‘Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you.  ‘I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.  ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.

‘But if you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments, if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances so as not to carry out all My commandments, and so break My covenant, I, in turn, will do this to you: I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that will waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you will sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies will eat it up.  ‘I will set My face against you so that you will be struck down before your enemies; and those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee when no one is pursuing you.  ‘If also after these things you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.  ‘I will also break down your pride of power; I will also make your sky like iron and your earth like bronze.  ‘Your strength will be spent uselessly, for your land will not yield its produce and the trees of the land will not yield their fruit.  Leviticus 26:1-20, (New American Standard Bible or NASB).  

Of course this Law was written only for the Jewish people, the Nation of Israel, and we Christians are not obliged to obey this Law because Jesus came and fulfilled the Law.  However, the promise from God for favor if you obey Him versus the withdrawal of God’s favor if you rebel against Him is still relevant for Christians today.   The center of this passage is making an idol and worshipping it and we certainly don’t have idols today, now do we?  I mean I don’t see some statue in the town square waiting for all who pass by to worship it, do you?  So does that mean we are not guilty of worshipping idols?  Mmmm!  I think we do have a fierce idol in today’s world that is being worshipped and though it isn’t made of stone or wood it is still dangerous because it is an ideology.  Not only is the idol of today an ideology but it has become the identity for so many and trying to debate a person with an ideology as their god makes them feel threatened as if you were personally attacking their personhood, their identity.  We are seeing this ideology idolatry played out in the American political scene today.  We have those who believe so strongly in their ideology that they are willing to create violence against anyone who disagrees with them politically.  There are violent protests taking place and those who are not protesting with violence are never-the-less still protesting often in the form of shutting down any debate or conversation by shouting the opposing viewpoint down.  It is disturbing to me.  I see families breaking apart because of political views.  This ought not to be, especially among Christians.   Let’s look at a passage from the New Testament that describes idolatry.

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.  Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.

Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.  Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.”  Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.  Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.  Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.  Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.  Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.  No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.  I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say.  Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?  Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.  Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar?  What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?  No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.  You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.  Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?

All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.  Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.  Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS.  If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake.  But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience?  If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?  Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.  1 Corinthians 10:1-33, (NASB).

Do you notice the description of the idolatry here?  The first generation of the Jewish nation to leave Egypt with Moses were not happy about many things including their food and their lack of drinks other than water, and they missed the good-life in Egypt.  They were so wrapped up in “self” and desire to make “self” comfortable that they grumbled about everything.  Comfortable living had become their idol.  Food from Egypt had become their idol.  Wine had become their idol.  Sex and immorality had become their idol.  They had such an ungrateful attitude for what God was doing and they paid the price for their idolatry.  We need to make certain that we do not make an ideology our idol.  We need to make certain that identity does not become our idol.  We need to make certain that our citizenship or politics does not become our idol.  We are called to be idol busters as Christians and we need to begin busting the idols in our own life first.  I love the last part of this passage in 1 Corinthians.  All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.  Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.  God deals with people individually and with the people of countries when it comes to worshipping idols.  While we have much freedom in Christ, we don’t have the freedom to make idols of our family, our country, our politics, our ideology, our sexual orientation, or our identity.  Why?  Because our identity is established in Christ and only Christ!  We are to be kind to everyone just as Jesus was.  We need to feed the poor and help the sick and do for others as we want done to us just as Jesus did.  We will prosper in the favor of God for eternity if we take the time and do the work of removing the idols from our life today.  Jesus is to be our model in how to live out our life for God.  I am so glad, aren’t you dear Christian?

Until next time…Katherine

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