What does the sin of idolatry look like today? In this article, Jack Zavada of Inspiration-for-Singles.com, gives modern day examples of idolatry and points Christian men to the always open u-turn that God offers on the wayward path of idolatry.
Introducing ... the 2008 Golden Calf!Those ancient Jews were a pretty primitive bunch.
Take the time God performed a series of incredible miracles, rescued them from slavery in Egypt, then parted the Red Sea so they could escape Pharaoh's army. But their memories were so short that when Moses went up on a mountain to talk with God, they built a golden calf and started worshiping it.
Imagine believing that a man-made pile of shiny metal could fulfill any of your needs!
Today we call them cars. Pickup trucks. Convertibles. Motorcycles. Notebook computers. Cell phones. Big screen TVs. GPS navigation systems. Cordless power tools.
Advertising agencies aren't stupid enough to write commercials that say, "Introducing the 2008 Golden Calf," but the pitch is pretty much the same.
What Guys Go For
In many ways, we Christian men are no different from our unbeliever brothers. We're fascinated with anything with an engine on it or the latest electronic wonder. Owning that kind of stuff gives us power. It makes us feel cool. We were raised to be competitive, so anything that gives us an edge over the other guy seems irresistible.
The bigger the item, the bigger we feel. That's why so many guys drive a pickup truck the size of a Brontosaurus.
You have to wonder where it's going to stop. Ten years from now will we be buying vehicles that require a step ladder to get in and out of? Will we install a monstrous television first then build the house around it?
There's nothing wrong with having possessions, but we have to be careful to keep them in perspective. They can steal too much of our time and attention.
The Part That Isn't Funny
It's all as ridiculous as the Jews' golden calf, except for one thing. We're looking to material objects for what only God can give us: a sense of worth.
We men inherited something nasty from Adam. We have an independent streak that makes us think we can go it alone. We believe we can bull our way through life, maybe with a little help from our expensive toys, and like a little boy who's built a sand castle, we can say, "See? I did it all by myself."
Except we can't.
Inevitably, God allows us to crash. Sometimes he has to let us crash several times before we figure out that we're not as smart as we think. Some guys never figure it out. They go through one crash after another, getting it together just long enough for the next crash.
Or they go from one golden calf to another, hoping "the next big thing" will do the trick. Christian men should know better, but we fall for it too. We forget the First Commandment:
"I am the LORD your God ... You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:2-3, NIV)
We make our job our god, or some talent we have, or some achievement or even ourselves. We get in trouble and there's only one way out.
Jesus Described All of Us
That way is coming to our senses and coming back to God. Jesus was talking about all of us in his parable of the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15:11-32.
The son, who turned independence and enjoyment into his golden calf, finally came to his senses and returned to his father's house. In verse 20 we see one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture:
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." (Luke 15:20, NIV)
That is the kind of God we worship. How foolish to choose any kind of golden calf over his stupendous, unconditional love.
We Christian men must be constantly vigilant. We must appreciate where our worth lies. But when we stray, as we sometimes do, we must not be afraid to come back home to God, because it is in him, and only him, that we will find the meaning and sense of importance we so desperately long for.
Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian Web site for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.