On idolatry – Part 1
You are a slave of something.
So am I, and so is everyone else you know. It’s how we are designed, dare I say, how we were created.
For the more skeptical reader, the one who claims complete independence, or the one who thinks my religious banter is simply that, permit me to make my case before you dismiss this post.
According to the Bible, man was created with purpose. It was not happenstance and it was not chance. Furthermore, it was not by mere whim that God chose to create everything from nothing. For God’s glory, he created. It was a plan from the very beginning, not an afterthought once it got started. Every blade of grass, every mountain, and every beating heart exists so that, through their existence, God displays his glory.
What is more, it appears that man has a very special place in all that God created. When you read the story in Genesis, it is as though the story is rushed in the beginning and slows down when it gets to its discussion of man.
Things are said about man that are not said about other parts of creation. For instance, God says man is made in his image. That sounds like a big deal. God also gives man special instructions that are not given to any other part of creation. Man is told to multiply and subdue the earth. The idea conveyed in this instruction is not an idea of lording over the earth, but ruling as a steward. In essence, man is told he will serve as vice-regents over all of God’s created order. Man’s instructions were to serve as kings over creation, but not in their own authority. Made in the image of the king, they were to serve that king as his stewards over all he had made. However, this headship over creation placed man squarely under the headship of their creator God. While they were made in his image, they were, nonetheless, made.
Man was made to serve God.
And despite our rebellion, we will never escape our nature as servants. We were made for service, a glorious service, but service all the same. We will, in our very nature, serve something.
This is the idea as expressed in the Bible, but for my skeptic friend, what if the Bible is not true? Is it my only evidence or can this be observed in everyday life? Can we see this thread run through man and society? For those playing along at home, the answer is yes.
As a matter of fact, we do not have to look hard to see people chasing their master. Everyone is consumed by something. People run after all kinds of lords in their life. If we look at the “less sophisticated” 95% of the world that still believes in a god of some form, then we see they all serve something.
Radical monotheist religions claims one, true, sovereign almighty God. Judeo-Christians submit to Yahweh and Muslims to Allah. And in cultures of polytheism or pantheism, they serve a myriad of gods, ancestors and spiritual forces, most having specific household deities that they directly serve.
Now, for the 5% of the world that feel they have escaped the chains of religion, we must ask the same question. Whom do they serve? For most, it is a subtle master. It is the master of wealth or power or success, whatever that means. Perhaps, it is some arbitrarily decided concept of “happiness” or experience. If not, then it is a societal ideal fabricated in a classroom somewhere such as: pluralism, consumerism, individualism, patriotism, or some other concept ending with “ism.” These people will attach their hopes and dreams to a concept, and will expend all their efforts to serve that concept. Even my nihilist friends, who claim to have no values, are, by simply making the objective claim that there is no objectivity, espousing an ideology they serve.
The religious devotion of atheists to their cause amuses me.
We all serve something. In the end, we all have a master that controls our life. And here is the brazen truth, simply calling your god something other than a god does not change the fact that you worship it.
Oh, and lest my readers who claim to serve Christ get too smug, simply saying you serve a particular god without any real evidence of that in your life only reveals your self-deception. You are serving someone or something, but it is probably not Christ.
That is a state perhaps worse than our atheist friend who at least claims no allegiance to Christ.
More on this next week.