You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:3-6)
The sum of the Law of God is the two greatest commandments: love God, love your neighbor. Jesus said so. No doubt about it.
Now, this is a rather strange thing. This means then that when we give our entire being, heart, mind, and soul, to the Lord, we are enabled to do the same to our neighbor. Love God. Love others. It is strange, I say, because it would seem that logically if you give all of yourself to the Lord there will be nothing left to give to your neighbor. But it isn’t so. The more we love the God of the Bible, the living and true God, the more love flows from us to others.
This dynamic does not work with any other “god” (idol). The idolater is a Gollum lusting for and craving his precious no matter what the cost to other people in his life. Idolaters are, it turns out, very heartless and selfish people who worship a god created in their own image in order to give them what they want.
The shameful way that so many abuse victims are being treated in local churches today is a litmus test indicator that reveals the presence of false gods, false christs, and idols. The thing is necessarily true. Idols demand and take, but never give. Idols are dead beings that leave their worshipers’ hearts dead, cold, hard, and untouched by the Spirit of God. So, for example, if the “institution” of marriage becomes an idol so that marriage and all its trappings become the focus of the church at the expenses of most all else, then that marriage cult is going to produce inward focused, self-serving people who are white-washed tombs full of dead men’s bones. And we know how such people treat the downtrodden, oppressed, and abused.
You shall know them by their fruits. Any church, any church leader, any professing Christian, who mistreats the weak and injured, who puts burdens on them that no one can bear, is an idol worshiper. The Jesus such a person professes is a Jesus re-created by man. He is an idol.
What then does this say about how much idolatry is parading as Christianity today?