Establishing True Connection
No man is better than any other, no matter what his gifts. Everything each of us has been given is by the hand of God. To know God is to worship Him alone. To truly connect with His Spirit is to turn from any desires we have to worship anything but Him. - p. 25
When we think of the term “Idol worship,” our mind naturally gravitates toward images of primitive people painting themselves with blood and bowing in the dirt to stone statues. The imagery is comical, mostly because it’s so far removed from a modern context. We say to ourselves…Idol Worship? That’s for uncivilized cultures in remotes areas of the Congo who don’t have electricity.
But the reality is, our current, western culture is as obsessed with idols as any civilization in modern history. We celebrate the athletic, charismatic, attractive, or accomplished by desiring to emulate them, many times more than we desire to emulate Jesus. If you think that Christians are exempt from this, just take a look at the prevalence of celebrity pastors, authors, and musicians. Church culture is as focused on the veneration of gifted individuals as the rest of “secular culture.” And this tendency has had a uniquely terrible impact on men’s souls, specifically.
Here’s how: At the core, we males want to be respected, right? We also want to be influential. These things are a huge part of our identity, because we were created to be leaders to our respective families and communities. But today, the most respected people in church culture are those have the largest public platforms. Numbers are celebrated over substance, character, and relationships. And because we all desire to be admired in the same ways as those in these positions, we each begin to define ourselves by how we measure up to (insert celebrity pastor, artist, or Christian celebrity here). This comparison inflames our insecurities. As a result, we begin to feel like we aren’t good enough, that we aren’t as special, that our gifts aren’t as good as someone else with more “influence.” Then, we do everything we can to present a public version of ourselves that looks impressive, because looking impressive is what other people value and reward. We then prioritize approval above substance, even if it is not based the reality of who we truly are.
Do you see how the subtle, yet powerful sin of idol worship has affected an entire generation of men? We need to remind ourselves of these truths: Worship of anything other than the one, true God will eventually leave us hurting and lost. Just because you are not the most successful, attractive, athletic, or charismatic human on the planet, you are in no way inferior. Your self-esteem is not linked to the external, but to the fact that your unique combination of gifts, passions, desires, and experiences makes it so you truly have a place in this world that is like no other. You are not defined by comparison to others. And if you have been wounded by a “hero” forgive them. In so doing, you lower them back their proper place: a fellow, imperfect, created being in need of redemption.
Read 1 Corinthians 11:1, Revelation 19:9-10, and Revelation 22:8-9:
Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ…
Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”
I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!”
The object of our worship is directly correlated to our hearts’ treasure. And maybe you aren’t fully aware of where your heart is at in regards to this. It’s time to find out! What do you treasure, really and truly? What do you want more than anything? Why are these things your treasures?
Compare the words of Paul in Corinthians with that of the angel in Revelation. How do you think “imitation” differs from worship?
How can we learn to imitate those we admire without worshipping them?
Think of someone you admire, and write down the reasons why you do. Then, write down a list of your own unique talents and gifts. Compare the two in light of the fact that “public” gifting is no greater than gifts that are less so. Can you see that there is no reason to venerate another man, no matter his talents? Can you see that you are just as valuable as those you admire?
To become aware of the subtle influence of idol worship in our heart we have to become alerted to how culture is influencing us. This requires us men to reform our relationship with all media, first and foremost. We have to train ourselves to be critical thinkers, rather than just consumers of both secular, as well as Christian culture. I am not talking about eliminating media. I am talking about consuming it responsibly in the context of faith. This week, whether it is at church or on the internet, think about the subtle messages that are being sent by the media in question. Ask yourself, what is the true message behind what I am being shown? What is the spirit, the motivation behind what I am seeing and hearing? Does it reinforce the fact that God has created me specifically and uniquely for his Glory? In so doing, we can truly take every thought captive to obedience of Christ.