The threat of idolatry in worship

The Devil hates it when we worship God. Any time the body of Christ gathers to give God glory and hear the gospel preached, the Devil loses, and so he’ll do anything in his power to keep us from worship. On an individual basis, he’ll try to prevent it by convincing people not to come, but that doesn’t work on everyone.  For all the Devil’s best efforts, a lot of people do still show up on Sunday mornings. So what’s he going to do? Yes, he’s doomed to fail, but he’s going to take as many people as he can down with him, and we should never underestimate his cunning. If he can’t keep us from worship, he’s going to try to neutralize our worship.  He will do everything he can to turn our hearts away from our Lord by tricking us into worshiping someone or something other than Christ.

Tim Keller pointed out at the Gospel Coalition conference back in 2009 that we all have idols and temptations to idolatry.  Whether it be our spouses, our kids, our reputations, our jobs, or our possessions, anything that’s truly meaningful to us and that truly matters in our lives can become so important to us that it takes God’s right and proper place in our hearts. The congregation we attend can become an idol, as can our denomination or religious tradition. So can our nation and our patriotism. For many churches, style of music is a major idol, while for others, the chief idol is their building.

These are all good things which we rightly love and value. We ought to love our families and our churches.  It is right that we love our nation and thank God every day for blessing us to live here.  We should value the work he has given us to do. It’s good to love music, which is a wonderful gift from God, and naturally we will prefer some styles of music to others. But every last one of these things must—must—come second in our hearts to God.  We don’t need to love them less, but we need to love Jesus Christ more than any of them. Our first and foremost desire should be to serve and honor and glorify him by giving him pleasure; our love for all those other people and things should fall in order behind our love for him.  Our worship needs to be directed to God and God alone.  For the sake of our souls and the souls of others, we cannot afford to let anything else creep in.

(Excerpted, edited, from “To the Glory of God”)


Photo © 2009 Wikimedia user Wattewyl.  License:  Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.

Posted in Religion and theology, Worship.

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