This doesn’t seem to be a relevant topic for today. It conjures up pictures of ancient cultures bowing before statues or of Eastern cultures far removed from Western society. However, it is a topic that occurs throughout the Bible. As Paul travelled throughout the Roman world, as described in the book of Acts, he found each city had its favourite deity (God) that had a shrine and was worshipped. We need to ask the question, is our society really any different? Ancient cultures worshipped Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty; Ares, the god of war; Artemis, the goddess of fertility and wealth. Doesn’t our society worship beauty, power, money and achievement? Doesn’t each of these have their own shrines – office blocks, gyms, stadiums, shopping malls? We can be blind to the idols within our culture, even our lives. A Ugandan bishop travelled to the UK and identified what he considered to be the major idol of our society, security. He discerned this from the fact that the first question people asked him was, is Uganda safe? We called ourselves Hope Church, as hope is the antidote to despair which we found all around us. There is a great difference between sorrow and despair. Sorrow comes from losing one good thing among others, e.g. if you lose your job you gain comfort from your family. Despair is inconsolable, because it comes from losing an ultimate thing. The cause of despair is idolatry, making things other than God the ultimate thing. The first commandment says, you shall have no other gods before me. When we make things other than God the ultimate thing, we will always end up disappointed and vulnerable to despair. During our sermon series we will be seeking to unmask the idols in our society, the impact that they have and most importantly how we find and replace the idols in our own lives.
Written by Tony Thompson