“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21)
The final verse of the Apostle John’s epistle has always fascinated me: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” After a letter discussing God’s love and forgiveness, God’s light and truth, and our assurance of faith, the Apostle John ends his letter with this short phrase: “keep yourselves from idols. It just seems so off-the-wall, like it’s out of left field, and such a weird way to end a letter. No blessing. No “peace and grace be to you,” just, “keep yourselves from idols.”
The fascination with this short verse in 1st John has carried over to an interest in better understanding idolatry. Of course, God condemns idolatry in what I call “The Big 10.” The second commandment states: “Thou shalt not make for thyself any graven image” (Exodus 20:4a KJV). And yet, the people of Israel continually went back to idolatry. Why? What causes the people of God to abandon God and seek out idols?
This fact causes me to wonder: Are idols limited to graven images carved out of wood, stone, or metal? When most of us think of idolatry, we think of statues that people kneel before, pray to, and worship. But in my studies, I’ve found that idolatry is much broader and more encompassing than simply graven images. Thus, I’m asking myself what might be considered as idolatry in our present-day? I think a better knowledge of idols and idolatry can and will improve our relationship with God and can also improve our relationship with one another.
And so, beginning in February, I’m going to start a sermon series titled, American Idols. We’ll look at the history of idolatry, the common ways we think about it, and some ways that the Bible talks about idolatry that may be different than what we think it is. Then we’ll apply these lessons to ourselves, examining our own lives and how idolatry may creep into our lives. We’ll look at how destructive idolatry can be to us, to our relationships, and to our faith. And we’ll look at how we can remove idols from our lives and worship God alone.
I remain yours in Christ’s Love and Service,