“And though they worshiped the Lord, they continued to follow their own gods according to the religious customs of the nations from which they came.”
2 Kings 17:33, NLT
Exclusive worship is not exactly the first choice of an outwardly religious people. It can be offensive to the spiritual sensitivities of a people wanting an extra edge on blessing and favor. We like to hedge our bets and cover our bases. Worshipping Jehovah alone goes against all we feel and believe from a earthly viewpoint.
Idol worship is alive and well in America. No longer restricted by carvings of stone or wood, we have ascended to worshipping concepts, or ideas. For example, “materialism” used to be worshipped as a Golden Calf. Today it is a god that is worshipped by many in a completely re-done format. Go down to the Financial District of New York or San Francisco and you will see it laid out pretty obvious. Great effort and considerable activity is given to follow this idol. Actually an idol is anything we love, find security in, look to instead of God.
Sex, power, music, art, politics, education, popularity and sports are open to people who want to worship. The ritual of this kind of worship is easier and more prevelant then ever. Christian believers are hardly immune. People who fear God alone are rare. We perpetuate attitudes and ideas that we pass on as our “values” to our children. It is no wonder they rebel. Often in their innocence they can see right through our hypocrisy.
We are specialists in spiritual syncretism. It seems we have achieved a level of sophistication that idolatry and true worship have been blended to our tastes, and we swallow it all with minimal discomfort. Heck, it even tastes good! And it gives us so much in return (we think).
As we worship other things, we become enured to the truth. We begin to actually prefer the taste of lies (as long as they are blended well). Many times I have sampled other things, typically convenient and attractive. Like a mineral vein in a mine shaft, it runs very deep and hidden. It typically starts off small, and not hardly noticeable. But it works its way through our minds and hearts.
When we first start worshipping an idol we have feelings of guilt and shame. Deep down we know it is not right (Isa. 45:16; Psalm 106:36) It is an universal truth that idols, in their mirage-like characteristics, lead us to spiritual poverty and confusion. Since we become hardened by this false worship, we hardly notice. When people (or books) speak truth to us, we will typically become angry and defensive. We are pretty protective of our favorite idol. Typically, if there is hostility, there you will find an idol.
Idolatry is running rampant through our culture. It is not something we have “outgrown” as a civilization, rather we have “grown into it”. There now exists a sophistication to idol worship that the ancient Israelites lacked. We have developed a blend that denies nothing and promises everything. And any commitment to exclusive truth is regarded as fanaticism, hate and bigotry.
“Little children, keep yourself from idols.” 1 John 5:21